ATLANTA - Mixed reaction among Georgians Friday after the U.S. Department of Education and Justice issued a guidance regarding transgender restroom access in public schools.
In a letter, the Obama Administration instructed school systems to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity, instead of the sex listed on their birth certificates.
The federal directive isn't law, however, the government suggests schools could lose federal funding for not adhering to it.
This decision came hours after parents in Fannin County marched to the school board meeting demanding the opposite. The federal stance has also drawn fire from many state leaders including Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge). He fired off a letter to Georgia’s U.S. Senators, John Isakson and David Perdue, stating that government needs to get out of school bathrooms.
"It's essentially holding a gun to the head of locally elected school boards who have been entrusted by the people of this community to manage these kind of issues, and I think that's unfair and I think that's not consistent with how our system is set up to operate frankly,” Ralston said.
Ralston also asked the senators to take what he calls “appropriate action to protect students."
But the directive has its share of supporters.
Eris Lovell, 18, who is a transgender senior at Walton High School in Cobb County, called the guidance "a move forward."
Lovell said she once worried how her peers would feel about her using the boys' or girls' restroom so she used a gender-neutral restroom at the school. But now she feels comfortable using the girls' room.
"We just want to use the restroom. There is no ulterior motive. Go to the restroom, fix your makeup then walk out and you're done," Lovell said.