Ohio school district sues Obama administration over transgender bathroom directive

A school district in Ohio has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration's directive to let transgender students use bathrooms in public schools based on their gender identity.

The lawsuit was sparked by the case of an unnamed biologically male student who identifies as female and attends Highland Elementary School in Morrow County.

A gender neutral restroom is seen in a city building in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 14, 2016. | Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

When the child entered first grade in 2012, his guardian told the school that he now identifies as a female and requested that the child be addressed as female, to which the school complied. The following year, the guardian asked the school to allow the child to use the girls' bathroom, which the school did not allow.

The school provided a single occupancy restroom for the student instead of allowing him to use the female restroom. However, the guardian was not happy with the arrangement and filed a complaint at the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

The department mandated the school to accommodate the child's request, citing that it cannot discriminate students based on sex. The department also ordered the school to change all policies for the sake of transgender students.

The Highland Local School District refused to comply with the order and sought legal counsel from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Not following the directive could cost the school $1 million annually from its federal funding, something that the school, which caters mostly to low-income families, could not afford, the Associated Press reported.

The school complaint says that threatening to pull the funds "will compel Highland to eliminate special-education classes and programs, end many of its educational-advancement programs and resources, increase class sizes (which will decrease the individualized time and attention that staff members are able to give each student), and cut the number of free and reduced-cost lunches available to students."

ADF senior counsel Jim Campbell said Highland Elementary School is fulfilling its responsibility to protect the "dignity, safety and privacy" of its students, while the education department is "attempting to strong-arm" the school into compliance to the transgender directive.

"The DOE is trying to redefine a federal law that only Congress can change," Campbell said, according to Christian News.