As lawmakers across the United States battle over whether to allow transgender Americans to use public restrooms that match their gender identities, universities are scrambling to ensure that dorms meet federal standards. At a time of year when the nation’s 2,100 residential colleges and universities are sorting out student housing assignments, they also are poring over a May letter from the Obama administration that thrusts them into the national debate on transgender rights.

Known as the “dear colleague” letter, it makes clear that federal law protects transgender students’ right to live in housing that reflects their gender identity. Schools that fail to provide adequate housing to transgender students could face lawsuits or the loss of any federal funding they rely on. READ MORE