‘We Will Not Yield to Blackmail,’ Says Texas Lt. Gov. on Transgender Bathrooms

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick speaks during a news conference at the Texas Republican Convention Friday, May 13, 2016, in Dallas. Texas is signaling the state it will challenge an Obama administrative directive over bathroom access for transgender students in public schools. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
AP Photo/LM Otero

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stated emphatically that the Lone Star State “will not yield to blackmail from the President of the United States,” in response to new guidelines released Friday from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Justice Department to allow transgender students to use public school bathrooms and locker rooms based on their “gender identity.”

In Dallas, Patrick told reporters at the Republican Party of Texas Convention that the President essentially is telling Americans “he’s going to withhold funding if schools do not follow the policy. “Well, in Texas, he can keep his 30 pieces of silver.

Patrick stated “we will not sell out our children to the federal government and the people of Texas and the legislature will find a way to find as much of that money that we can if we are forced” to do so. He emphasized there is “no compromise on the transgender bathroom matter,” calling it a “modern day” ‘Come and Take It’ issue.'”

“Come and Take It” is a reference to the historic Texas revolutionary Gonzales flag flown in a battle where Mexico sent troops to reclaim a cannon the town was using to defend itself from Indians.

The timing of the Obama administration’s order comes days after Fort Worth Independent School District Superintendent Kent Paredes Scribner unilaterally adopted a bathroom and locker room policy, which Patrick slammed as being driven by “personal political agenda.”

Earlier in the week, Patrick intervened in Fort Worth ISD, calling for Scribner’s resignation and scolded his actions, saying “the role of the superintendent is not to be a ‘social engineer.’” On Friday morning’s press conference, Patrick said he “connected the dots” between the Fort Worth school superintendent and the President. He told reporters Scribner was appointed to an education commission by Obama. “It’s the same policy based on Title IX.”

Previously, Breitbart Texas spoke to Cindy Asmussen, Concerned Women for America (CWA) of Texas legislative director. She underscored that Fort Worth ISD “is making the guidelines look as if they are in accordance with governing law but there are no federal or state laws, statute, or court opinions which say these transgendered guidelines should or need to be implemented.”

Patrick addressed the state has anti-bullying and anti-harassment measures in place. On Tuesday, he said, “I believe 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,” alluding to 2011’s S.B. 205. On Friday he stated, “This has nothing to do with anyone being against a transgender child, or a gay child.”

Critics attacked Patrick for stepping into Fort Worth’s transgender school guidelines. On Friday, the Lt. Governor stated the reason he stepped into Ft. Worth was totally different than what POTUS did in issuing transgender bathroom guidelines. “I stepped into Ft. Worth because a superintendent circumvented the school board and…the parents. They had no local voice. On the other hand, the president stepped in not to defend the parents but to attack the parents.”

Patrick continued, “The school district is the heart of our communities. But as the superintendent did, the president did in the middle of the night, in secret, without Congress, without people, without any input from the education community. He is foisting this divisive and harmful policy and, let’s remember, this policy does nothing to better educate our students. It does nothing to increase reading and math scores. It does nothing to cut drop out rates. It is not about education.”

The Lt. Governor stated Texas schools get approximately “$10 billion over our two year budget of federal funds.” He noted the majority of those monies are for free breakfast and free lunch through the food program to assist the “poorest of the poor.”

“The President of the United States will be ending the free breakfast and free lunch program. That’s what he’s saying,” said Patrick. “Let’s be clear, this is not law, this is a recommendation, a suggestion with a threat. This is what the Education Department under President Obama suggests what you do and if you don’t do it, we’re going to withhold your federal money.”

“We, in Texas, will make sure the poorest kids don’t go hungry even if the President is happy to take food off the table of the poorest of the poor. We will find a way,” said Patrick. He said he will meet with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton later on Friday. “I know other Attorney Generals are working on this around the country.”

Also Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted the state will fight the Obama administration’s guidelines, saying that the President cannot rewrite the Civil Rights Act, nor is he a “king.”

With three weeks left in the public school year for Texas students, the Lt. Governor divulged he advised the state’s school district superintendents “do not enact this policy – 70 to 80 percent of people in your school district(s) do not want it. Do not be blackmailed by the federal government.”

Patrick emphasized that the transgender bathroom issue goes against the values of many people — white, black, brown — and transcends political party lines, intimating you don’t mess with Texas parents. “People can be pretty loyal to their politics for their candidates but when you interfere with their kids and the values they want to teach their kids, you lose your standing very quickly.”

He added he believes many Democrats will “support our bill that we will file” to address this issue. Patrick reiterated that last year, Houston voters resoundingly said ‘no’ at the ballot box to an adult version of a “bathroom bill,” the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (H.E.R.O.). He emphasized that the ordinance was defeated in a city that is largely Democrat.

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.


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