WASHINGTON, D.C., May 16, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Despite the power of the bully pulpit, and the pull of billions of dollars in federal education funding, leaders in at least a dozen states have said Barack Obama's guidance on transgender bathroom, shower, and locker room use is unconstitutional, with many saying the decree will not be implemented, come what may.
Governors, attorneys general, and school officials – not to mention incensed parents – say the federal document released last Friday is a vast overreach of the president's powers and places young children at risk.
Disregarding 'the president's social experiment'
Upon release of the long-rumored document last week, multiple governors declared the decree dead on arrival.
North Carolina, which is already locked in a protracted battle over its own state law over transgender restroom use, brushed off last Friday's directive.
Obama's policy is “an invitation for violations of privacy and personal safety,” said North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.
“North Carolina will not stand by and let our locker rooms and high school showers be used for social experimentation at the expense of the privacy and protection of our young boys and girl,” he continued. “I don't think it appropriate for teenage boys and girls to shower next to each other…I feel confident, the vast majority of North Carolina parents feel the same.”
“North Carolina public schools in receipt of the president's letter are reminded that there is a binding state law on the books governing bathroom policy and the president's non-binding directive is merely his attempt to push his version of a social policy on our state with no Constitutional authority to do so. It should be rejected as a matter of principle and policy,” Lt. Gov. Forest said.
“I do not think it is appropriate for teenage boys and girls to share the same bathroom. I don't think it is appropriate for male coaches and male teachers to have access to girls' locker rooms and showers while the young girls are naked and exposed,” he continued.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said his state would give up federal education funding before changing its policy, although that would deprive the students of an estimated $10 billion, much of it in the free breakfast and lunch program.
Their calls to defy the president's innovative interpretation of a 1972 civil rights law – Title IX, which does not mention gender identity – echoed throughout the country.
“Mississippi's public schools should not participate in the president's social experiment,” said Gov. Phil Bryant, because “these decisions are better left to the states, and not made at the point of a federal bayonet.”
Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves agreed that “state and local communities should not be forced to push a liberal agenda by a president out of touch with the American people.”
Gov. Bryant recently signed H.B. 1523, which explicitly allows people to set their own policies on “access to restrooms, spas, baths, showers, dressing rooms, locker rooms, or other intimate facilities” without fear of government reprisal.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said public schools in the Bluegrass State “should not feel compelled to bow to such intimidation.”
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said, “Schools are the domain of state and local government, not our nation’s president. Unfortunately, this is exactly what I have come to expect from the Obama administration. If we have to fight this order, we will not hesitate to do so.” His Board of Education Chair, David Crandall, has advised school districts not to implement any policy changes in lieu of a more concrete court order or binding legislation.
And Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson tweeted:
— Gov. Asa Hutchinson (@AsaHutchinson) May 13, 2016
We will fight this directive
Alabama state Attorney General Luther Strange, a Republican, vowed, “If the Obama administration tries to enforce this absurd edict, I will work with other Attorneys General to challenge it.”
One such state AG, Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma, wrote a letter to the Obama administration Friday afternoon shortly after the guidelines became public, saying he would “vigorously defend the state's” commonsense solution.
In Louisiana, 32 of the state's 105 state representatives sent a letter asking the attorney general to clarify the administration's guidelines, as well as an executive action by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards on transgender issues.
Other states are fighting the administrative regulation that anyone who says he identifies as a member of the opposite sex must be treated accordingly. After the Obama administration released its letter the states of Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, Utah, and West Virginia signed on to defend a rural Virginia school district the administration had sued over the issue.
Less outspoken opposition
A few Republican governors have said, while transgender students must be treated with respect, they did not feel this was an appropriate role for the federal government. Indiana's Mike Pence, Wisconsin's Scott Walker, and Iowa's Terry Branstad said the decision should be left to local leaders. Tennessee's Bill Haslam called the document “heavy-handed.” However, Pence seemed ready to implement the document's guidelines, sources say.
While many said they felt it inappropriate for members of one biological sex to be left unsupervised inside intimate facilities, others cited constitutional and legal concerns.
Obama turned the Constitution on its head
President Obama on Monday said he released the guidelines only because “schools were asking us” for appropriate legal guidance. However, transgender activists such as Mara Kiessling at the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) have asked the Obama administration to impose such regulations for years.
But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said on “Fox and Friends” this morning that there is “only one body of the three branches of government that can write the law and that is Congress. We have a president who decided, well, if Congress is not going to pass the law, he's going to impose the law.”
“The president is turning the Constitution on its head,” he said.
Pat McCrory, the governor of North Carolina, said the guidelines violate the president's “constitutional authority,” because “the executive branch of the federal government does not have the authority to be the final arbiter” of law.
Gov. Matt Bevin, a constitutionalist, said, “It is difficult to imagine a more absurd federal overreach into a local issue. Under the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the federal government has no authority to interfere in local school districts' bathroom policies.”
“My administration is researching the options available for ensuring that this local issue is decided by Kentuckians, not by bureaucrats in Washington,” he said.