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ACLU Urges Gov. Scott To Follow Fed's Lead On Transgender Issue

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida issued a letter calling on Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi to reject arguments of social conservatives who say the state should ignore federal guidance on the treatment of transgender students.

ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon said allowing public school students to use facilities corresponding to their stated gender identity, rather than their sex at birth, "is not only required by law, but it is also the right thing to do."

The guidance last week from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice has caused an outcry from social conservatives, who have pushed for Scott to defy the order and Bondi to issue an opinion on whether the initiative is constitutional. Both have so far declined to get pulled into the fight.

Advocates on both sides of the transgender student debate argue that safety is an issue, with critics of the Obama administration saying the guidance could lead to a breakdown in school discipline or even attacks.

But echoing other LGBT supporters, Simon said there is no evidence of critics' fears coming true, and that forcing students to use the restroom corresponding with their sex at birth could also cause problems.

"When transgender students are required to use separate facilities, it does not go unnoticed by other students," he wrote. "Being separated from other students in this way would be damaging to anyone, but it is especially harmful for transgender children."

Last week, the ACLU filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, alleging that a resolution approved April 26 by the Marion County School Board violates federal anti-discrimination laws. The resolution requires students to use restrooms that correspond with their sex at birth.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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