The Obama administration is planning to issue a sweeping directive telling every public school district in the country to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity. A letter to school districts will go out Friday, adding to a highly charged debate over transgender rights in the middle of the administration’s legal fight with North Carolina over the issue.

The declaration — signed by Justice and Education department officials — will describe what schools should do to ensure that none of their students are discriminated against. It does not have the force of law, but it contains an implicit threat: Schools that do not abide by the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law could face lawsuits or a loss of federal aid. READ MORE