WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Obama administration is issuing a decree today on transgender bathrooms in federally funded schools that demands officials allow transgender students to use whatever facilities they choose.
The directive from Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon, and Vanita Gupta, leader of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, cites federal Title IX in arguing that “nondiscrimination on the basis of sex requires schools to provide transgender students equal access to educational programs and activities even in circumstances in which other students, parents, or community members raise objections or concerns,” The Washington Post reports.
The blowback has been immediate, and fierce.
“I got news for President Barack Obama,” Texas’ Port Neches-Groves Superintendent Rodney Canvass told 12News. “He ain’t my president and he can’t tell me what to do. The letter is going straight into the paper shredder.”
“I have five daughters and I have 2,500 girls in my protection. Their moms and dads expect me to protect them. And that is what I am going to do,” he continued. “Now I don’t want them bullied … but there are accommodations that can be made short of this. He is destroying the very fiber of this country. He is not a leader. He is a failure.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott weighed in on Obama’s directive, as well, posting a link to the announcement with a message to Twitter: “I announced today that Texas is fighting this. Obama can’t rewrite the Civil Rights Act. He’s not a King.”
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 13, 2016
Texas joined North Carolina in its battle with the federal government over the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX sex discrimination laws. North Carolina recently pass a law requiring public facilities to segregate restrooms by birth gender, rather than gender identity, a law Obama said is “wrong and should be overturned.”
The Post notes Obama’s decree on Friday is only the latest in a long line of executive decisions that ultimately end up in protracted, expensive legal battles.
“In directing schools across the nation to provide transgender students with access to suitable facilities — including bathrooms and locker rooms — that match their chosen gender identity, the administration virtually guarantees another potentially long court struggle over the scope of presidential power, in this case, the power under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to use a threatened cut-off of federal education funds to tell states how to run their bathrooms,” according to the news site.
Obama’s proclamation is the latest development in what’s become an increasingly hot-button issue in public schools.
Earlier this week, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called for the resignation of the Fort Worth superintendent over his unilateral decision – with no consultation with parents or board members – to allow transgender students to choose whatever restroom or shower facilities they want, among other accommodations.
Patrick was equally as critical of Obama’s announcement.
“President Obama, in the dark of night – without consulting Congress, without consulting educators, without consulting parents – decides to issue an executive order, like this superintendent, forcing transgender polices on schools and on parents who clearly don’t want it,” he told NBC5.
“This will be the beginning of the end of the public school system as we know it.”