State superintendent: Local schools decide transgender bathrooms

The awaited guidance from Georgia’s school superintendent on how schools should handle transgender bathroom use can be summed up like this: decide for yourselves.

Superintendent Richard Woods on Friday released a letter he sent to school districts. It says the idea of local control is embedded in Georgia law, and that he is confident local school district leaders “will continue to appropriately address concerns surrounding this complex and sensitive matter.”

The release of the letter came three days after Gov. Nathan Deal publicly asked Woods to recommend a course for schools in response to federal guidance from Washington last week. The federal guidance — Woods has called it bullying — sums up the Obama administration’s interpretation of federal law on the issue. It says schools should let students decide their gender identity and choose their bathroom or locker room accordingly.

It’s not, technically speaking, a mandate, but schools that don’t fall in line risk lawsuits and loss of federal funds. Georgia gets about $2 billion a year in such money.

Woods said he thinks there are “safety and privacy concerns” with letting students “of different genders” share bathrooms and locker rooms. He offered undefined support if districts resist Washington and incur its wrath, pledging only to “work with all parties to take appropriate action.”

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.