Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick made good on a promise to pen a letter asking all of the state’s public school districts not to implement President Obama’s transgender bathroom, locker room, and shower policies.
Breitbart Texas obtained a copy of the Lt. Governor’s June 3 letter that went to Texas public school superintendents and board of trustee chairs. It addressed the Obama administration’s May 13 “Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students,” which among other issues, disenfranchises parents from participating in decisive roles concerning their children’s “gender identity” matters.
Previously, Patrick verbally advised Texas school officials not to implement Obama’s transgender directive during a press conference.
“We will fight back against the federal government,” Patrick wrote, calling Obama’s eight-page transgender policy letter “threatening.” In May, the Lt. Governor likened it to “blackmail” saying the President essentially told Americans “he’s going to withhold funding if schools do not follow the policy.”
In the letter, Patrick pledged to stand with school administrators “if the federal government attempts to follow through on its threat to take away any of your funding for low and reduced-price lunches. The most vulnerable students in our public schools will not suffer from this unprecedented federal overreach into our classrooms.”
Patrick indicated Texas will not “allow our students, teachers, and schools to be bullied.” He vowed the state will “protect and provide for every student, without exception.”
Texas schools receive around $5 billion in federal funds annually. These dollars are largely earmarked for subsidized breakfasts and lunches provided through the national school food program to assist the “poorest of the poor.”
The Lt. Governor’s letter highlighted the lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, now joined by 11 other states. The lawsuit argues the Obama administration violated federal law and the U.S. Constitution in redefining “sex” to include gender identity as well as in “threatening” to sue and withhold funding from states and public schools that refuse to adopt the policy, which Breitbart Texas’ Lana Shadwick reported.
Although Patrick asked public school administrators and board chairs to wait for the resolution of AG’s lawsuit before moving forward on the Obama administration’s school transgender bathroom and locker room policies, he stated in his letter: “Make no mistake, the president’s directive does not carry the force of law.”
Patrick wrote if schools “unnecessarily” follow the Obama directive, which defines “sex” as a student’s subjective “internal sense of gender,” Texas administrators and school boards would be in violation of the University Interscholastic League (UIL), the state’s governing body for competitive public school athletics, music, and academic events. They recognize gender based on birth certificates, not on gender identity.
In 2015, UIL officials asked Texas public school superintendents to vote on the topic. Earlier this year, administrators overwhelmingly approved an amendment that requires using a student-athlete’s birth certificate to determine gender identification.
The Lt. Governor also cited the unintended consequences of what he calls an “ill-conceived directive” that will open the door to lawsuits from parents against schools over gender-related sports scholarships.
“I believe that no student in any Texas public school should be bullied or intimidated for any reason, but this policy does nothing to help us reach that goal,” Patrick wrote. He emphasized such student issues are best handled locally on a case-by-case basis, “not by a one-size-fits-all directive from Washington.”
Last month, Patrick spoke to the state’s existing anti-bullying and anti-harassment measures, saying he believed in protecting every student. “If there is a transgender student who feels like they’re being harassed and bullied we have laws in place to take care of that,” he said, alluding to 2011’s law S.B. 205. In May, he also commented: “This has nothing to do with anyone being against a transgender child, or a gay child.”
Besides the federal lawsuit, Patrick’s letter recalls asking Paxton to render an opinion on the legality of the Fort Worth Independent School District’s transgender student guidelines. Superintendent Dr. Kent Paredes Scribner “suddenly and single-handedly” adopted rules which allow students to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on gender identity instead of the gender listed on students’ birth certificates.
“I asked our attorney general to issue an opinion clarifying whether that superintendent had the authority to unilaterally adopt his policy without a school board vote or public comment from parents, and whether his policy violates the parental rights guaranteed under Chapter 26 of the Texas Education Code. It is my hope the attorney general’s response will affirm parents’ rights to all information about their children along with the need for public hearings before any new policy is adopted by a school board,” Patrick wrote in the June letter.
Breitbart Texas reported Patrick requested Scribner’s resignation after acting in a way that the Lt. Governor characterized as driven by “personal political agenda”when he “unilaterally” implemented these district-wide transgender policies without any community input or board approval.” Scribner maintains he only adopted a 2011 school board policy.
Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.