The Obama Administration sent a letter, through the Departments of Education and Justice, to schools nationwide that mandates the institutions create bathroom policies that support transgender students. The guidelines are meant to ensure that "transgender students enjoy a supportive and nondiscriminatory school environment," the Obama administration said.
The nation was been swept up in a debate over who can use which bathroom after North Carolina passed a controversial law that banned transgenders from using the bathroom matching their gender identity. North Carolina's House Bill 2, which was passed on March 23, states people have to use the bathrooms associated with the gender on their birth certificate. The law has sent shockwaves of controversy across the nation and has impacted business across the state.
Companies, including Paypal, General Electric, Dow Chemical, Pepsi, Hyatt, Hewlett Packard, Whole Foods, and more have boycotted the state, resulting in millions of dollars of lost business, according to reports. The News & Observer, a North Carolina newspaper, reported that the state has lost $3.1 million due to businesses, association groups, and events canceling in the state. A whopping $28 million in future spending is also at stake. The federal government also filed a lawsuit against North Carolina and its lawmakers to repeal HB2 or else the state will no longer receive federal funding.
"There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex," Attorney General Loretta Lynch told CNN. "This guidance gives administrators, teachers and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies."
Todd Olson, CEO of Raleigh-Based software startup Pendo, says he is ashamed of his state's law. In a blog post on Pendo's site, Olson says local and national laws should not discriminate against people's "race, religion, who they like, birth gender, or desired gender."
He says the bathroom bill is not only hurting North Carolina as a state, but it's also hurting small businesses like Pendo.
"We need the best team members and will continue to recruit nationally. This legislation does not help Pendo raise money, recruit people, or win customers," Olson writes on Pendo's website. "It has the ability to negatively impact all of those things and distract us from what really matters."
As a Christian and a registered Republican (two groups that are fighting to keep HB2 in North Carolina), Olson says he is disappointed in how people in his state are supporting discrimination.
"[I] feel embarrassed and sad and confused that the values I believe in are being perverted for political purposes and perpetuating hate," Olson writes.