• May 17, 2016

Op-Ed: Parents don’t want kids using bathrooms with the opposite sex at school

Op-Ed: Parents don’t want kids using bathrooms with the opposite sex at school

150 150 Dan Patrick, Lieutenant Governor

Dallas Morning News
May 18, 2016

Early last week, when the superintendent of Fort Worth Independent School District unilaterally issued an order on transgender students that allowed boys to go into girls bathrooms, I spoke out. The policy defied common sense and common decency and would bring chaos to the school day. The left complained I was interfering in a local issue. However, when a school board and the parents are bypassed by a superintendent’s executive order, there is no local control. Someone had to speak up for the parents.

I suspected and said the Fort Worth policy was part of a larger, hyper-politically-correct transgender agenda being driven by President Obama. I was proven right. Obama issued a far-reaching directive on transgender bathroom policies just two days later. In a stunning display of executive overreach, President Obama has assumed the role of commander-in-chief of the bathroom police just as the superintendent had done in Fort Worth, but the president was impacting every school house in America.

Obama’s directive on transgender policy threatens to cut federal funding to any local public school if the school board and administrators don’t bow down and accept his edict that essentially says actual gender is no longer the relevant factor in determining what bathroom or shower facilities any public school student can use.

Instead, under Obama’s rules, any student can decide to use whichever facilities he or she chooses, no matter how confused or troubled that child’s decision may be, or how much disruption will be caused in the school. Amazingly, in issuing this policy, Obama ignores any questions about the issues of privacy and safety that are raised by allowing boys in girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms. Parents do not want their teenage daughter being forced to shower with a teenage boy or their seven-year-old sharing the bathroom with a seven-year-old of the opposite sex.

If there was any question that Obama’s policy was more than pandering to the LGBT elites in his party, then consider that common sense efforts to accommodate transgender students, such as providing unisex bathrooms for any student to use, are specifically prohibited by his policy.

Obama’s transgender directive is not about discrimination. No child’s civil rights are being violated. Just the opposite. Our goal is to make sure that every student has safe and private bathroom accommodations in our public schools.

This policy is also not about bullying. Texas school administrators, teachers and police are working every day to prevent students from being bullied by others and to prosecute bullies who target other children in schools or on social media.

Obama’s policy isn’t about children either. Research on gender identity shows that re-assigning sexual identity, particularly among younger children, can be harmful and is often proved unnecessary.

And obviously, Obama’s policy is certainly not about improving education in our public schools. It is just the opposite – a distraction to students and teachers selfishly put forward to serve Obama’s political agenda and beef up his left-wing legacy. School children are merely pawns in this political game.

In Texas, Obama’s threat to withdraw federal funding would actually eliminate funds for the free-lunch program across the state. The victims of Obama’s bathroom policy would be our poorest children. Apparently the president thinks his crazy bathroom scheme is more important than the free lunches we know are essential to make sure all children have the energy and nutrition they need to focus on their school work.

We don’t have to guess what the public — those taxpaying voters who pay for our public schools — think about these politically correct bathroom policies. In Houston, the largest city in America to elect an openly gay mayor, both Democrats and Republicans from racially and culturally diverse communities came together to soundly defeat the so-called HERO ordinance that would have mandated similar bathroom requirements for businesses. I was proud to be a leader in that fight, where common sense prevailed over politics. For voters, this issue was a no-brainer. Men should not be allowed in women’s bathrooms.

This is a come-and-take-it moment for Texas parents. It seems clear to me that these bathroom edicts violate the Texas Education Code. I believe the attorney general agrees with me. We will not let Obama force this insanity on Texas schools. During the 2017 legislative session, I intend to pass legislation to assure that common sense policies prevail. The parents of Texas and I believe America will not be bought by the president’s 30 pieces of silver.