A directive by President Obama to force public schools to allow homosexuals to use the bathrooms of their opposite sex is drawing heated opposition from Oklahomans.
A notice from the U.S. Department of Education to all public schools insists that male students who think or say they are girls must be allowed in girls’ restrooms and girls’ lockerrooms. And the same goes for girls who dress as boys or want to be boys.
While the directive has no force of law, it implies dire consequences for any school district that defies this edict.
“We must stand against President Obama’s aggressive attempts to fundamentally transform America,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine. “Congress must use the ‘power of the purse’ to combat this executive overreach. Parents and schools should assert their rights to govern themselves and not submit to Obama’s lawless federal bullying.”
Bridenstine is joining members of Congress in a letter to the president condemning his recent directive about gender identity and school bathrooms.
“The Obama Department of Education’s guidance letter on the use of public school bathrooms is another example of how they have continued to create law out of thin air with ‘dear colleague’ letters, threats and intimidation,” said U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma. “They have continually shown a pattern of federal overreach and bullying of schools while attempting to force their ideology outside of the legal requirements for creating policy. The proposal in (this) guidance is so significant and groundbreaking, it should only be considered by legislation, preferably at the local level, instead of through a Department of Education guidance letter. Even though the Department will say that guidance does not have the force of law, every school district in the country will be terrified of going against a federal agenda. This is threatening and intimidating and has no place in our government.”
In November, Congress debated and passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, which is the reauthorization of the latest elementary and secondary education laws.
“This legislation would have been the proper place for consideration of this type of change in law,” Lankford said. “During that debate, transgender student policy was discussed but Congress ultimately decided to defer to states and localities.
Obama’s new law is not safe and is unfair, Lankford said.
“This proposal has many unintended consequences for safety and gender fairness, which are completely being ignored in this conversation,” Lankford said. “This type of policy change has major implications for safety, the use of school locker rooms, and participation of sports teams in school. No student should feel unwelcome at school, but we cannot ignore the fact that this policy will make the majority of American families unwelcome in their own school. The people of Oklahoma are welcoming to all, but they deserve the right to make their own choices on how to honor and protect each child.”
Lankford has repeatedly challenged the Department of Education’s inappropriate use of ‘Dear Colleague’ letters and ‘guidance documents’ to mandate policy for schools without adhering to the legislative process or transparent regulatory process, as required by law. Academics and legal experts have agreed with Lankford’s criticism of the Department of Education. Lankford voted against the confirmation of Education Secretary John King because of King’s philosophy about the department’s overreach. In September 2015, Lankford chaired a hearing on their pattern of executive overreach, as well.
A group of Oklahoma legislators, including Rep. Dan Fisher, Rep. Bobby Cleveland, Rep. Chuck Strohm, Rep. J.P. Jordan, Sen. Josh Brecheen, Sen. Joseph Silk, Sen. Mark Allen and Sen. Larry Boggs have joined to fight the Obama directive.
“As a sovereign state, Oklahoma has no intention of surrendering our public education to bureaucrats in Washington D.C.,” said Fisher. “Most Oklahomans embrace Judeo/Christian values and we intend to protect our school districts from this immoral, ridiculous, unconstitutional decree.”
“Only 11.5 percent of our education funding in Oklahoma comes from the Federal government,” said Sen. Josh Brecheen. “If they continue to press this issue, we’ll find a way to get by without that 11.5 percent.”
“We don’t intend to be held hostage by Federal money,” said Rep. Bobby Cleveland.
“The OK Legislature is not going to sit idly by while the federal government sets policies for the use of bathrooms, locker rooms, etc. in our OK public schools,” said Strohm.
“In Oklahoma, we require students in our public schools to use bathrooms, locker rooms, and other such facilities consistent with their biological gender,” said Silk.
The Oklahoma lawmakers agreed to promote the examples of North Carolina and Texas and the advice of Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who said; ‘We’re not going to be blackmailed by the president, and we’re not going to sell out our school children for 30 pieces of silver.’ Either states matter or they don’t.”
“It is very concerning that the president of the United States would attempt to coerce state-run public schools into complying with his agenda by threatening to withhold federal funding,” said Oklahoma House Speaker Jeff Hickman. “Children are not political pawns, and I am sure that most Oklahomans are outraged that such a directive would come from our federal government. I intend to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate and with the governor to address this federal intrusion into what is clearly an issue that should be dealt with by local school boards across our state.”
The action is drawing opposition throughout the nation.
“The administration’s new guidelines simply reinforce what has been abundantly clear already—that it has a political goal of forcing women to share restrooms and locker rooms with men across the nation and will spread falsehoods about federal law to achieve its aims,” said Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is precisely why we have filed two federal lawsuits, one in Illinois and one in North Carolina, on behalf of parents and students who are understandably concerned about their children. Solutions exist to accommodate everyone without violating anyone’s privacy rights, but the administration won’t entertain those solutions because of its preference to unlawfully impose its political will through threats and intimidation.”
State education officials are calling Obama’s plan “outrageous.”
“I believe this is an outrageous overreach by the federal government,” said Oklahoma School Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. “It nearly defies belief that the Obama Administration now wants to direct how Oklahoma schools and districts operate our bathrooms. Furthermore, I find it disturbing that this ‘joint guidance’ carries an implicit threat of loss of federal funds. In the midst of a historic funding crisis for public education, schools should not be burdened with this sort of overreach yet again.
“Educators have a responsibility to ensure that every child is safe, treated with respect, and given the opportunity to learn. Oklahoma schools know the needs of our students and communities, and meeting those needs should solely remain a matter of local control.”
Obama’s actions are drawing criticism from state lawmakers.
According to Obama’s order from the Education Department, a “transgender” student is someone who thinks they are not the same gender that they were born with. It claims student can change their sex through “behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice or mannerisms.” This includes “feminine boys” and “masculine girls” plus those who consider themselves “androgynous.” Obama also thinks that boys and girls can have “multiple genders.”
The letter implies that schools should not require “medical or legal proof” that a student has changed his or her gender. And schools should not ask for government-issued identity documents. State law should be subject to Obama’s viewpoint under this directive.
Obama’s homosexual policy is meant to apply at school, at school activities, on school buses and should override communication between the school and the student. It applies to administrators, teachers, staff members, students, parents and volunteers.
It mandates that male students who want to be girls be referred to with feminine pronouns and the same with girls. Schools administrators must ask the student what they want to be called and then abide by their wishes.
Obama’s new law would force schools to let boys into the girls’ restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities. Students would decide which facility they want to use, what name they want to be called and how they want administrators to handle their situation.
And President Obama mandates that all school personnel go through social training to make sure they don’t deviate from his homosexual policy.