This article originally appeared on watchdog.org.
The American Federation of Teachers has¬†endorsed a¬†transgender advocacy campaign¬†asserting men should be permitted in women‚??s restrooms, and vice versa.
The public policy position taken by AFT,¬†America‚??s¬†second-largest teachers union, could have major implications for school children across the country.
‚??You¬†deserve to be able to use the gender-based facilities of your choice,‚?Ě states¬†the Healthcare Bill of Rights, a¬†project of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group LGBT HealthLink. A¬†copy of the Healthcare Bill of Rights bearing AFT‚??s logo¬†is posted on¬†the¬†LGBT HealthLink¬†website.
According to AFT and LGBT HealthLink, it may be illegal for hospitals and other health-care providers to refuse a man access to a women‚??s restroom if he identifies himself as female.
‚??If a provider refuses to let you use the gender-based facilities of your choice based on your gender identity, it could amount to discrimination on the basis of sex, and thus be illegal under the Affordable Care Act,‚?Ě¬†LGBT HealthLink¬†explains.
The singularly named Scout, director of LGBT HealthLink,¬†cited¬†this explanation¬†when contacted for confirmation that ‚??gender-based facilities‚?Ě include men‚??s and women‚??s restrooms. The nonprofit encourages individuals who feel they have been discriminated against to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
‚??Also keep in mind that you may have additional protections under state or local law; for example, in Washington DC, the Human Rights Commission helps ensure that transgender individuals have appropriate access to restrooms,‚?Ě LGBT HealthLink‚??s website adds.
In¬†a Jan. 6 release¬†announcing its endorsement of the Healthcare Bill of Rights, AFT wrote, ‚??under the Affordable Care Act, discrimination on the basis of sex is prohibited. If a medical provider refuses to recognize a person‚??s gender identity, the patient can file a discrimination complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services.‚?Ě
Watchdog contacted multiple state AFT chapters and the union‚??s Washington, D.C. headquarters to ask whether this principle should apply to restrooms in public schools and elsewhere.¬†AFT¬†leaders¬†in Texas and Georgia indicated they were unfamiliar with the Healthcare Bill of Rights, and¬†AFT¬†headquarters failed¬†to respond to a request for comment.
Although endorsing the Healthcare Bill of Rights is¬†consistent with AFT‚??s ‚??progressive‚?Ě politics, it‚??s unknown how the union¬†chose¬†to do so¬†and how national AFT¬†leadership informed state and local affiliates of the decision.
‚??A transgender person should use the restroom that corresponds to his or her gender identity,‚?Ě LGBT legal nonprofit¬†Lambda Legal asserts. The group points to laws in¬†Washington, D.C., and elsewhere as ‚??model restroom access policies.‚?Ě
Lambda Legal¬†also opines, ‚??courts have increasingly found that discrimination against transgender people is sex discrimination, so it‚??s not acceptable to institute different kinds of bathroom rules for transgender and non-transgender people.‚?Ě
Ryan Anderson, William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society at the conservative Heritage Foundation, disagrees.
‚??The government shouldn‚??t force decisions on which bathroom people use based on¬†‚??gender identity,’‚?Ě Anderson said in an email to Watchdog.org. ‚??Citizens should be free to make their own bathroom policies based on biological sex.‚?Ě
‚??Bathroom policies based on biology should not be deemed ‚??discrimination‚?? by the government,‚?Ě Anderson added.
A¬†CBS News poll conducted last spring¬†found 59 percent of Americans were opposed to letting boys use girls‚?? restrooms and letting girls use boys‚?? restrooms at school.