President Barack Obama said that his understanding of the Bible and his Christian beliefs led him to issue the directive at public schools calling on students to be allowed to use the bathroom of their choosing regardless of their biological sex.
"My reading of scripture tells me that that [the] Golden Rule is pretty high up there in terms of my Christian belief," he said during a town hall in Elkhart, Indiana, according to Breitbart News on Thursday.
When asked why he decided to make such a big issue out of school bathrooms, Obama explained that his concern stems from the bullying that transgender students experience.
"What happened and what continues to happen is you have transgender kids in schools and they get bullied and they get ostracized and it's tough for them," the president explained.
Obama said that he understands not all people agree with him, and added:
"I have profound respect for everybody's religious beliefs on this, but if you're at a public school, the question is, how do we just make sure that, children are treated with kindness."
The directive issued earlier in May states that students should be free to use the bathroom of their choosing should a parent or guardian call and notify his or her school district that the student's identity "differs from previous representations or records."
"There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex," U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement at the time.
Eleven American states filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration at the end of May over the directive, however, arguing that the guidance has "no basis in law."
A joint statement from the states of Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin further stated that such a directive would turn educational settings across the U.S. "into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over common-sense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights."
Jeff Landry, the attorney general for Louisiana, vowed that he would "not allow Washington to wreak further havoc on our schools," while Texas Gov. Greg Abbott stated that Obama is "not a king."
Patrick Morrisey, attorney general for West Virginia, said that the bathroom guidance would "force a seismic shift in local schools," and Joy Hofmeister, the state education chief in Oklahoma, warned that the guidance could pose a threat to the federal funding for schools who refuse to comply, calling the president's move "disturbing."
Evangelical leaders, from Franklin Graham to Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas, have also rejected Obama's ideas, citing God's creation of two clear gender.
The joint state lawsuit will be aimed at blocking the federal government from "implementing, applying or enforcing the new rules, regulations and guidance interpretations," The New York Times reports.