Obama made the comments during an interview at the White House with Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner in response to an inquiry about his message to conservative governors who say they won’t follow the guidance.
“We’re talking about kids,” Obama said. “And anybody who’s been in school, and in high school, who’s a parent, I think should realize kids who are sometimes the minority, kids who are a different sexual orientation or transgender, are subject to a lot of bullying potentially. They are vulnerable.”
Obama continued he thinks society has an obligation to ensure children are treated fairly and “their dignity is affirmed.”
Declining to comment on the lawsuits over North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law, Obama provided further explanation for the guidance issued jointly last week by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education.
“Schools were asking us, or asking the Department of Education, how should handle this?” Obama said. “So they sought out some clarification, some guidance. And that’s what we did. We said it it our view that you should try to treat these kids with dignity.”
Although the guidance indicates schools could lose federal funds under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 for discriminating against transgender students, Obama characterized the instructions as merely advice.
“Ultimately, depending on how these other lawsuits go, courts will affirm or reject how we see the issue, but we think it was important for schools who want to go ahead, in a very practical way, to try to deal with the school year and what are going to be next year and how should we approach this that we give them our best judgment on how to approach it,” Obama said.
Watch the full interview here: (Comments on trans guidance start at 21:25)