Experts believe that if the Obama administration successfully forces public schools across the country to grant transgender students access to bathrooms and locker rooms designated for the opposite biological sex, it could lead to an increase in the number of students who are homeschooled or attend private schools.
Last Friday, the departments of Education and Justice sent a directive to all public school districts in the United States telling them that they must allow transgender students into bathrooms, locker rooms and showers that are consistent with their gender identity. If school districts refuse, they could be at risk of losing millions of dollars in federal education funding.
A number of conservative states and school districts have already indicated that they won't obey the edict and will contest in court if the federal government tries to enforce it. Meanwhile, other school districts will obey the order and let biological boys into girls bathrooms, showers and locker rooms, and vice versa.
The departments' order has drawn the ire of parents throughout the nation, who think that it is wrong to expose their young children to the other gender's genitals and feel that their children's privacy rights are being ignored by the administration.
But if courts allow the federal government to impose such a regulation on American public schools systems, the co-founder of the nation's leading homeschooling advocacy organization believes that it could lead to an increase in the amount of families that choose to homeschool their children.
"President Obama's edict is clearly not a valid enforcement of existing congressional law. Moreover, this unilateral action will cause many parents to consider their educational alternatives," Michael Farris, a constitutional lawyer and the co-founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association, told The Christian Post in an email.
"His order raises legitimate questions [about] physical safety but it also delivers a message of unmistakable philosophical hostility for those who hold traditional moral views," Farris added. "Homeschooling will grow but it gives me no satisfaction that this kind of federal usurpation is the underlying reason."
Although the state of Washington enacted a statewide transgender bathroom ordinance late last year, Thomas Schmidt, a staff attorney with the HSLDA, told CP it is hard to tell whether the 3 percent increase in the number of homeschool students in Washington in the past year is related to the state's new transgender ordinance.
David Goodwin, the president of the Association of Classical Christian Schools, which is affiliated with over 250 evangelical schools throughout the U.S., believes that the Obama administration's directive could likely lead to an increase in private school populations that is similar to the increase seen when public schools were forced by the government to desegregate during the 1960s.
"In the circles of parents that I talk to, at this point, they are a little bit shell shocked. Things have moved pretty fast in the social policy side with the Obama administration and that fast movement has got a lot of parents back on their heels," Goodwin told The Christian Post Monday. "Probably the biggest infusion of kids into private schools was during desegregation during the 60's. This could very well match or exceed that in the next 10 years."
"If we just look to history — there weren't very many private schools outside the Catholic School system prior to about 1950," Goodwin added. "If you just look at the history of the last 40, 50, 60 years, you can probably make some straight-line assumptions about what is going to happen based on various times in which parents have been motivated to leave the public schools."
Goodwin added that another factor that might lead to an increase in the number of families that send their kids to private school is the fact that many families are returning to private schools after the 2008 recession forced them to send their children to public schools.
Goodwin said that he and others in the Christian private school community are concerned that it won't be too long until liberals use the government to go after private schools. He believes that the federal government could try to use various tactics to force private schools to comply when it comes to LGBT issues.
Goodwin argued that liberals will try to use the precedent set in the Bob Jones University 1983 Supreme Court case (which ruled that the school could be stripped of its tax exempt status for not allowing interracial dating on campus) to further the LGBT agenda in private schools.
"If you look at the Bob Jones case in the 1980s, I think that is the the well-traveled path that the Left is trying to drive this through is the civil rights path," Goodwin said. "At this point, there are no colleges or schools in any form that can survive operating with any kind of racism built into it, which most of us would say is a good thing. But the path would be used in the same way for LGBT issues and it is going to be very difficult to avoid for schools."
"As an organization, we are trying to understand it and stay on top of it," he continued. "We are unique when it comes to restrictions for our schools accepting government funding so we will probably be the last ones to fall, but we are pretty worried about it."