AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas, along with 10 other states, are challenging the directive by President Barack Obama’s administration regarding transgender student bathroom guidelines.
In a news conference Wednesday, Attorney General Ken Paxton said Obama is basically creating a new law and “has simply decided to exclude Congress entirely.”
He also said he’s willing to take this fight all the way to the Supreme Court. Since 2003 Texas has spent more than $5 million suing the federal government in more than 40 different cases.
“The cost of defending the constitution is always worth it,” said Paxton.
Two weeks ago, the Obama administration called on every school in the country to let students use the bathroom and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity. While a legal requirement was not implemented, districts who refuse are at risk of losing federal funding.
The Harrold Independent School District, a district in North Texas with a total of 100 students, is the only school district in Texas listed as a plaintiff in the suit. The district installed a policy that states students must use the bathroom that matches their birth gender.
“The district is in the crosshairs of the Obama Administration which has maintained it will punish anyone who doesn’t comply with their orders,” said Paxton.
According to the suit, the letter from the Department of Justice and Department of Education did not include “medical diagnosis or treatment requirement” as a prerequisite to selecting one’s “gender identity.” The suit says a student can choose what gender they want to be on “one particular day or hour, and then another one the next.”
At the news conference today, the superintendent told KXAN the Attorney General’s Office reached out to them. But they were planning on calling the state a few hours later to ask for help.
“We’re standing firm and saying we are going to protect the rights of our children in a way that is appropriate. In ways we’ve been doing it since 1884 when the school was established — boys will use boy’s restrooms, girls will use girl’s restrooms,” said Thweatt.
Paxton says the bathroom situation should be dealt with on a local level. “That’s up to them, up to school districts, up to parents, to deal with it on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
Attorney General Paxton says he’s not worried about businesses backing out and the state losing money and that people could do what they want to do. He did note that 10 other states are suing with Texas so business would take a lot of state’s off their list of places to locate.
Controversy now comes to Texas, even to the Barnes and Noble in Round Rock. Paula Trietsch Chaney and her two friends protest outside Governor Greg Abbott’s book signing.
“I care if they wash their hands. I don’t care who uses what bathroom because I haven’t been molested in a bathroom by anyone,” said Treitsch Chaney, “I think it’s a fool’s errand quite frankly.”
The governor backs the attorney general and says the laws at play are the Civil Rights Act and Title 9.
“Those are laws enacted by Congress. Not the president,” said Governor Abbott.
Manny Garcia from the Texas Democrats doesn’t buy it.
“No, this is about making sure every single child is safe, respected, and welcomed in their school,” said Garcia. He says we should focus on building the middle class and improving roads; instead it’s another controversial headline for Texas.
Austin ISD told us they haven’t had any complaints and they work with transgender students on a case-by-case basis. Officials also say they don’t have a specific bathroom policy, but they do have a policy that bans discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. Manor ISD, Leander ISD and Lake Travis ISD also said they haven’t had any complaints over bathrooms. They don’t have specific bathroom policies in place either, but they do protect students against discrimination. None of the school districts we contacted have had a complaint over bathrooms.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday around 12:30 p.m. in the Northern District Court of the United States.
At the time, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said Texas was willing to forgo funding. “We will not be blackmailed by the President’s 30 pieces of silver. We will not sell out our children to the federal government,” said Patrick. “And the people of Texas the legislature will find a way to find as much of that money as we can if we are forced to.”