Metro Weekly

Republicans aren’t happy about new trans students guidance

Governors are willing to sacrifice federal aid in response to guidance

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Credit: danpatrick.org

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Credit: danpatrick.org

“We will not be blackmailed by the president’s 30 pieces of silver.”

–Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, in a statement responding to news that the Department of Education is issuing guidance to ensure that transgender students are treated fairly and equally, in accordance with their gender identity.

Patrick tweeted that the guidance would allow “boys into girls’ restrooms [and] locker rooms,” a common argument used by anti-transgender activists. Patrick and other governors are willing to forfeit billions in federal aid to their states by defying the new guidance.

“I recommend that school districts disregard POTUS’s ‘guidance’ on gender identification in schools,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson wrote on Twitter. “POTUS’s ‘guidance’ to AR schools on gender I.D. is offensive, intrusive [and] totally lacking in common sense .” He also called it “social engineering” in a statement.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory called on federal courts and congress to “intercede to stop this massive executive branch overreach.” The leader of the state’s senate, Sen. Phil Berger, stated: “The last time I checked, the United States is not ruled by a king who can bypass Congress and the courts and force school-age boys and girls to share the same bathrooms and locker rooms.”

“The Mississippi Department of Education should disregard the Obama administration’s outrageous bathroom directive,” tweeted Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant. In a statement, he called it “the president’s social experiment.”

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin issued a statement calling the guidance an “absurd federal overreach.”

“[The President] is intentionally dividing America by threatening to sue or withhold funding from our cash-strapped public schools if they do not agree with his personal opinion on policies that remain squarely in their jurisdiction,” he said. “They should not feel compelled to bow to such intimidation.”

The White House shot back at Lt. Gov. Patrick during a Friday press briefing. Press Secretary Josh Earnest said: “This does underscore the risk of electing a right-wing radio host to a elected statewide office.”

Earnest also clarified what the guidance entailed.

“This is not an enforcement action. This does not add any additional requirements to any school district or state under the applicable law,” he told reporters. “This is in response to extensive requests for guidance and for information and advice that have been put forward by school administrators and teachers and in some cases, even parents, who are seeking practical solutions to this challenge.”

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.