Lt Gov: Texas will forego federal funds over LGBT policy

DALLAS (AP) — Texas' lieutenant governor said Friday that the state is prepared to forfeit billions of federal dollars in public school funding in defiance of an Obama administration directive requiring schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity.

  • Written by PAUL J. WEBER, Associated Press

Texas Supreme Court upholds state's school funding formula

DALLAS (AP) — Texas' complicated school finance system is constitutional, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled Friday — a surprise defeat for the 600-plus school districts that endured more than four years of costly legal battles hoping judges would force the Republican-controlled Legislature to fork over more funding.

  • Written by WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press

Hero dog saves 7-year-old girl from rattlesnake

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — When a venomous Eastern diamondback rattlesnake appeared in the backyard of a 7-year-old Florida girl, her German shepherd came to her rescue, refusing to back down despite multiple snakebites.

  • Written by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Endangered Sumatran rhino gives birth in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A Sumatran rhinoceros has given birth at an Indonesian sanctuary in a success for efforts to save the critically endangered species.

  • Written by STEPHEN WRIGHT, Associated Press

US gives directive to schools on transgender bathroom access

WASHINGTON (AP) — Public schools must permit transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity, according to an Obama administration directive issued amid a court fight between the federal government and North Carolina.

The guidance from leaders at the Justice and Education departments says public schools are obligated to treat transgender students in a way that matches their gender identity, even if their education records or identity documents indicate a different sex.

"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 said in a statement accompanying the directive, which is being sent to school districts on Friday.

In issuing the guidance, the Obama administration is wading anew into a socially divisive debate it has bluntly cast in terms of civil rights. The Justice Department on Monday sued North Carolina over a bathroom access law that it said violates the rights of transgender people, a measure that Lynch likened to policies of racial segregation and efforts to deny gay couples the right to marry.

The guidance does not impose any new legal requirements. But officials say it's meant to clarify expectations of school districts that receive funding from the federal government. Educators have been seeking guidance on how to comply with Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs and activities that receive federal funding, Education Secretary John B. King said in a statement.

"We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence," King said.

In Texas, Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick said on Friday that the state was ready to forfeit federal education money, currently about $10 billion, rather than comply with the guidance.

  • Written by ERIC TUCKER, Associated Press