Employers should allow their transgender employees access to bathrooms that match the gender with which they identify, a controversial new guidance issued Monday by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration asserts.
According to The Hill, The four-page "Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers" was created at the request of the National Center for Transgender Equality and argues that employees must be able to work in a way that's consistent with how they live their everyday lives based on their gender identity.
"Restricting employees to using only restrooms that are not consistent with their gender identity, or segregating them from other workers by requiring them to use gender-neutral or other specific restrooms, singles those employees out and may make them fear for their physical safety," the guidance says. "Bathroom restrictions can result in employees avoiding using restrooms entirely while at work, which can lead to potentially serious physical injury or illness."
OSHA's guidance, which also lists federal, state and local laws that reaffirm the principle of providing employees with access to restroom facilities based on gender identification, continues: "Gender identity is an intrinsic part of each person's identity and everyday life. Regardless of the physical layout of a worksite, all employers need to find solutions that are safe and convenient and respect transgender employees."
The OSHA guidance comes in the midst of gay pride months and less than two months after the White House officially designated a gender-neutral restroom for visitors and staffers under the guise of "protecting the rights of members of the LGBT community."
"Our journey is not complete until our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law," U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday.
The controversial move reflected Obama's 2014 executive order barring federal contractors from engaging in employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
"An all-gender restroom is also available in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which provides guests and staff an additional option," said White House spokesman Jeff Tiller, noted Politico.
"The White House allows staff and guests to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity, which is in keeping with the administration's existing legal guidance on this issue and consistent with what is required by the executive order that took effect today for federal contractors."
Earlier in May, a Virginia school district announced plans to add "gender identity" to its nondiscrimination policy, which would allow boys who identify as girls to use the locker rooms and bathrooms of their choice - as well as participate on athletic teams of their choosing.
Despite pushback from parents and the local community, officials with the Fairfax County Public School district argued that unless they make the change, the U.S. Department of Education could withdraw federal funding.
Andrea Lafferty, the president of the Washington, D.C.-based Traditional Values Coalition, has launched a campaign to fight the proposed change and is urging the nation should pay close attention to what happens in Fairfax County.
"This should be a concern to everybody," she told the Christian Examiner. "The Obama administration thinks they can do whatever they darn well please. The Constitution doesn't matter. The rights of parents don't matter. God Almighty doesn't matter to this administration."