U.S. Secretary of Education John King spoke out against North Carolina's controversial new law limiting bathroom access in public schools.
At a conference for education writers in Boston, King called the law known as HB 2 and a similar law in Mississippi "hateful," and said lawmakers should repeal it.
"They send a deeply problematic message to young people in schools," King said, responding to a question from a reporter in the audience.
King reasserted the Obama administration's guidance that gender identity is protected under Title IX, a federal law that protects people from discrimination based on sex, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity.
HB2 prohibits people in public schools from using public restrooms that do not correspond to the sex on their birth certificates. That presents problems for transgender students, and one high school student has brought a lawsuit challenging the law in federal court saying it violates Title IX, as well as the Constitution.
Some groups, including the ACLU, have argued the state could loose billions of dollars in federal funding if the federal government finds that HB2 violates Title IX.
When asked, King would not say whether the Department of Education or other federal agencies plan to take enforcement action against the state by denying funding.