House Republican Introduces Bill to Combat Obama's Transgender Bathroom Edict

A sign protesting a recent North Carolina law restricting transgender bathroom access is seen in the bathroom stalls at the 21C Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina, May 3, 2016.
A sign protesting a recent North Carolina law restricting transgender bathroom access is seen in the bathroom stalls at the 21C Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina, May 3, 2016. | (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Drake)

A lawmaker in the United States House of Representatives has introduced legislation to counter the Obama administration's public school transgender bathroom edict that would prohibit the federal government from being able to reduce school district's funding over bathroom policies.

As previously reported, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice issued a joint guidence on May 13 that instructs all public school districts in the U.S. to allow transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with the sex in which they identify.

Although the Obama administration's guidance does not have the full force of law behind it to require compliance, schools that choose not to abide by the guidence run the risk of losing millions of dollars in federal education funding.

As many state and local officials have already indicated that they will not follow the directive, Rep. Luke Messer, R-Indiana, introduced legislation into the House last Wednesday that would protect the authority of state and local governments to establish their own bathroom and locker rooms policies.

While the Obama administration's directive argues that Title IX laws prohibit discrimination based on transgender status, Messer's PUBLIC School Act would make it completely legal for schools to have bathroom policies that require students to use bathrooms consistent with their birth sex.

Additionally, the law would make it illegal for federal financial assistance to be "reduced or denied" because a state or local government enforces a bathroom and locker room policy that does not allow transgender students to access bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.

"Everyone on both sides of this debate should be treated with respect," Messer said in a statement. "And, through public discourse, I believe we can come to a solution that protects the privacy and dignity of everyone involved."

Messer added that it is "irresponsible" for the Obama administration to begin a social experiment in the country's public school bathrooms.

"Decisions of this magnitude should be made at the state and local level by people who will put the interest of our kids ahead of political ideology," Messer explained.

If Messer's bill is voted on in Congress, it would need a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers to override President Barack Obama's likely veto.

As many as 73 House Republicans have signed onto a letter sent to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Education Secretary John King last Thursday urging their offices to explain how the administration plans to enforce its transgender bathroom edict.

"Americans are incensed by President Obama's blatant executive overreach," Texas Rep. Bill Flores, the chair of the Republican Study Committee, told Daily Signal. "Now they are threatening school funding over an issue that should rightfully be left to the states. Their actions are politically motivated and Congress has every responsibility to challenge them."

Last week, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., also sent a letter to King demanding answers as to how Title IX law can justify the directive when Title IX is silent on transgender individuals.

"As guidance, the Dear Colleague letter purports to merely interpret existing discrimination law under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX); in reality, however, the guidance represents an abrupt departure from long standing sex discrimination policy," Lankford wrote. "In keeping with the [Office for Civil Rights'] troubling tradition of flouting federal law to advance substantive policy serving the administration's political agenda, OCR's latest guidance conflates an individual's gender identity with the widely accepted and longstanding understanding of sex without support in Title IX."

While Obama's transgender guidance has received much criticism and backlash from conservatives, the president defended the guidance in an interview with Buzzfeed. He insinuated that the directive was to protect transgender students from being bullied.

"We're talking about kids … [who] are subject to a lot of bullying. They are vulnerable," Obama said. "I think it is part of our obligation as a society to make sure everyone is treated fairly and our kids are all loved and that they're protected and that their dignity is affirmed."

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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