DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – This morning Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick spoke out against the directive that President Barack Obama is expected to issue later today stating that every U.S. public school district should allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity.
Speaking outside the Texas Republican Convention, underway in downtown Dallas, Patrick said the unisex bathrooms decree “…will be the end of public education if this prevails. People will pull their kids out. Home schooling will explode. Private schools will increase. School choice will pass.”
Calling the transgender student accommodation the biggest issue since prayer was taken out of school Patrick said the move is political and that President Obama is “paying back the gay and lesbian community that helped him defeat Hillary Clinton in 2008.”
The decree is not law, but does suggest there could be legal action or a loss of federal aid for schools that do not comply.
Patrick said, “This is a recommendation — a suggestion with a threat. This is what the Education Department under President Obama suggests that you do, and if you don’t do it we’re gonna withhold your federal funding.”
Despite the possibility that billions of dollars in federal funding for public schools will be forfeited Patrick said, “I’m telling all the superintendents of Texas, you have about three weeks left in the school year, do not enact this policy.”
Here in North Texas, the transgender bathroom debate started in April, when officials in the City of Rockwall considered an ordinance to would require residents to use the restroom that corresponds with the gender listed on their birth certificate, not the sex which they identify with as an adult. Ultimately, the City Council rejected Mayor Jim Pruitt’s proposal that would have had violators facing a fine of up to $500.
Earlier this month Fort Worth Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner established new guidelines stating that students in the district should be recognized and have access to the bathroom that is consistent with “the gender identity that each student consistently and uniformly asserts.”
Just days after the FWISD change, Patrick called for Dr. Scribner’s resignation and made his way to North Texas to attend a regularly scheduled school board meeting.
Speaking in downtown Dallas today the Lieutenant Governor said, “This was flawed policy by Superintendent Scribner and if this doesn’t wake up the parents of Fort Worth I don’t know what will.”
As he spoke about how he believed Superintendent Scribner has overstepped his power, Patrick was asked exactly how he thought the issue of transgender students and schools should be handled. He said, “I do believe in local control when a superintendent of a school board allows the parents to have input. Let every school decide. Let the parents decide. It’s up to each school.”
Patrick went on to suggest that transgender decree would negatively impact straight students. “This whole movement to be sure that we don’t harass or bully any child for any reason, in a schoolroom or on social media, the President is undermining that, because no kids are going to be bullied… not the transgender kids but maybe the straight kids.”
Just as the Obama Administration sends out letters to every district, with non-discrimination guidelines, Texas politicians are promising to fight it tooth and nail.
Governor Greg Abbott claimed President Obama is, “…rewriting the Civil Rights Act to force states to bow down to Barack Obama’s political agenda.”
While many Republican have yet to endorse GOP presidential candidate front-runner Donald Trump, during his comments in Dallas Lt. Gov. Patrick said the federal transgender student policy decree could have huge political implications. “I believe that if Donald Trump handles this correctly, as I believe he will, he already said this should be a states rights issue this morning,” he said. “I believe this is not only gonna usher in school choice in America but it could well usher in Donald Trump in the White House, because Hillary Clinton supports this policy.”
The public schools that will be impacted by the new guidelines being sent out by the Obama Administration include more than 16,000 school districts and 7,000 colleges, universities and trade schools.
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