States dig in against directive on transgender bathroom use

A self portrait of Hunter Schafer sits on the kitchen island in her family's home. The 17-year-old transgender youth says she would like to hug President Obama for ordering schools to allow students to use the bathroom of the gender that fits their identity. Raleigh, North Carolina, May 13, 2013 | Photo by Allen G. Breed (AP), St. George News

RALEIGH, N.C. — Politicians in Texas, Arkansas and elsewhere vowed defiance — and other conservative states could follow suit — after the Obama administration told public schools across the U.S. on Friday to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

The federal government’s guidance was met with tearful praise from parents of transgender students.

“It’s heartbreaking that these kids are losing their lives because they can’t be accepted,” Hope Tyler, who has a transgender son at a Raleigh high school, said in reference to suicides among transgender people. “Somebody has to speak for the kids.”

The directive from the U.S. Justice and Education Departments represents an escalation in the fast-moving dispute over what is becoming the civil rights issue of the day.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, right, listens to a reporter's question during a news conference at the Texas Republican Convention. Texas is signaling the state will challenge an Obama administrative directive over bathroom access for transgender students in public schools. Dallas, Texas, May 13, 2016 Photo by LM Otero (AP), St. George News
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, right, listens to a reporter’s question during a news conference at the Texas Republican Convention. Texas is signaling the state will challenge an Obama administrative directive over bathroom access for transgender students in public schools. Dallas, Texas, May 13, 2016 | Photo by LM Otero / AP, St. George News

One by one, conservative political leaders thundered against it and President Barack Obama.

“This is the most outrageous example yet of the Obama administration forcing its liberal agenda on states that roundly reject it,” said Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant.

The guidance was issued just days after the Justice Department and North Carolina sued each other over a state law requiring transgender people to use the public bathroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate. The law applies to schools and many other places.

While supporters say the measure is needed to protect women and children from sexual predators, the Justice Department and others argue the threat is practically nonexistent and the law discriminatory.

The guidance issued on Friday is not legally binding, since the question of whether federal civil rights law protects transgender people has not been definitively answered by the courts and may ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.

But schools that refuse to comply could be hit with civil rights lawsuits from the government and could face a cutoff of federal aid to education.

Texas’ lieutenant governor said the state is prepared to forfeit billions rather than let the Obama administration dictate restroom policy for its 5.2 million students.

“We will not be blackmailed by the president’s 30 pieces of silver,” Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said.

Rodney Cavness, superintendent of the Port Neches-Groves school district in Texas, told KFDM-TV: “When I get that letter, I’ll throw it away.”

Similarly, GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas said schools should disregard the directive, which he derided as “social engineering.”

Governors and top leaders in other conservative states railed against the guidance but stopped short of telling schools to ignore it.

“The last time I checked, the United States is not ruled by a king who can bypass Congress and the courts and force school-age boys and girls to share the same bathrooms and locker rooms,” North Carolina’s Republican Senate leader Phil Berger said.

And Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said: “It is difficult to imagine a more absurd federal overreach into a local issue.”

Hunter Schafer shows parents Mac and Katy some of her artwork at their home Friday in North Carolina. The 17-year-old transgender youth, who was designated a boy on her birth certificate, is a plaintiff in a discrimination lawsuit against the state. Raleigh, N.C., May 13, 2016 | AP Photo by Allen G. Breed; St. George News
Hunter Schafer shows parents Mac and Katy some of her artwork at their home Friday in North Carolina. The 17-year-old transgender youth, who was designated a boy on her birth certificate, is a plaintiff in a discrimination lawsuit against the state. Raleigh, N.C., May 13, 2016 | AP Photo by Allen G. Breed; St. George News

However, Democratic Govs. Peter Shumlin of Vermont and Jay Inslee of Washington praised the Obama directive, saying it was consistent with their own policies.

“I applaud the Obama administration for establishing policies that will better provide all our children an opportunity to thrive,” Inslee said.

The federal guidance may portend more court fights over transgender bathroom access.

Already, officials from eight states — West Virginia, Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Maine and North Carolina — signed on to a brief in recent days asking a federal appeals court to re-hear a case in which it sided with a Virginia transgender student seeking to use the boys’ bathroom.

The new guidance says public schools must treat transgender students in a way that matches their gender identity, even if their education records indicate a different sex.

Some school systems around the country already accommodate transgender students when it comes to bathroom use.

Nearly half the high schools in the 53,000-student Seattle district have gender-neutral restrooms, and students can also use the bathrooms in the nurses’ office, spokeswoman Stacy Howard said.

The National School Boards Association has published guidelines for its members in dealing with transgender students. It stops short of telling them exactly what to do, instead advising them to work with their attorneys to determine the best course amid a “shifting legal landscape.”

Francisco Negron, chief attorney for the organization, said there is a “disconnect” between what is happening in various states and what the federal government is demanding, “and school districts are caught in the middle.”

Tyler, whose 15-year-old transgender son attends the Raleigh high school, said she cried when she heard about the Obama administration directive.

“It means a lot to our kid. People don’t realize that these kids in schools weren’t having any bathroom issues before,” she said.

Since the passage of North Carolina’s bathroom law, Tyler’s son has been doing his schoolwork under a special arrangement that allows him to take classes mostly from home.

Hunter Schafer poses with parents Katy and Mac on the front porch of their home. The 17-year-old transgender youth is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against North Carolina's recently enacted House Bill 2, which overturned LGBT protections put in place by the city of Charlotte. Raleigh, North Carolina, May 13, 2016 | Photo by Allen G. Breed (AP), St. George News
Hunter Schafer poses with parents Katy and Mac on the front porch of their home. The 17-year-old transgender youth is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against North Carolina’s recently enacted House Bill 2, which overturned LGBT protections put in place by the city of Charlotte. Raleigh, North Carolina, May 13, 2016 | Photo by Allen G. Breed / AP, St. George News

Before the new law, Hunter Schafer, 17, had no problems being accepted by her peers at the UNC School of the Arts, a residential high school in Winston-Salem where she has lived in the girls’ dormitory. The school gave her her own private restroom in the dorm.

With the passage of the law, Schafer said she found herself “just having to decide do I break the law, or do I put myself in this highly uncomfortable or highly dangerous situation in the men’s restroom?”

Her father, Mac Schafer of Raleigh, was elated to hear the new guidance from the Obama administration.

“As a parent, some of your core instincts are protection for your child,” he said. “To know that the federal government is pushing for respect and safe space and rights for Hunter is thrilling.”

Wriiten by JONATHAN DREW and PAUL J. WEBER, Associated Press

Contributing to this report were Emery P. Dalesio in Raleigh; Gary D. Robertson in Raleigh; Bruce Schreiner in Louisville, Kentucky.; Dan Sewell in Cincinnati; Phuong Le in Seattle; Eric Tucker in Washington; Bradley Klapper in Washington and Larry O’Dell in Richmond, Virginia.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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  • ladybugavenger May 14, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    I walked into a woman’s restroom 2 months ago and my eyes widened and my heart skipped a beat, I stepped back, I was startled, and for a moment I thought I was in the wrong restroom. The girl looked like a guy. Was it a guy? I don’t know. Was it a girl? I don’t know. Was I in the right restroom? YES

    • Rainbow Dash May 14, 2016 at 5:19 pm

      Ladybug let me give you two facts:
      1.) Transgendered people (both men and women) have been using the bathroom of their choice since gender segregated bathrooms became a thing. Chances are great that you’ve come in contact with at least one in the course of your lifetime and didn’t even realize it. Chances are even greater that the woman that “looked like a guy” was actually a woman whose physical appearance didn’t fit into your idea of what a woman should look like.

      2.) The only non transgendered men and women who will take advantage of the law are criminals and perverts who would do it regardless of whatever law or policy is in place and right wing extremists looking to get their five minutes of fame on youtube.

      Think of it this way though; No one is forcing anyone to use a public restroom. Most places have single stall “Family Restrooms” or you can always use the one located at home. Both of those are more private, generally cleaner and safer because you will be the only one in there.

      • ladybugavenger May 15, 2016 at 10:01 am

        Pleeeeze, When I pull my hair back I look like a boy. I can grow more facial hair than you haha. It’s not the transgendered, gays,lesbians, xyz’s that I’m worried about. I thought I was clear but I guess not. It’s the straight boy or man taking advantage of this and going into the women’s restroom for sexual desires. You’ll see the increase, give it time.

    • Mike May 14, 2016 at 9:10 pm

      Guess what. Not every lady looks “lady like.” Get over yourself. Maybe if you met people outside of your social circle you’d meet nice women who happen to look less like you are used to.

      • ladybugavenger May 15, 2016 at 10:04 am

        I happen to be not very lady like, I’ve probably scared a few ladylike women, but I’m not lgbtxyz, I probably get mistaken for one tho. Lol. You’re missing my point, I did feel bad that I was caught off guard and not paying attention. My point: Their will be an increase in crimes. You’ll see.

        • Rainbow Dash May 15, 2016 at 8:47 pm

          You may want to consider revamping your standards of others, Ladybug. Unless of course you’re comfortable being judged by those same standards. Since you are a Christian you may want to consider what God said in Matthew 7 “Judge not, that ye be judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again”.

          Let me repeat my second point in my comment above since it pertains to your argument that there will be an increase in crime. Perverts and criminals will go in regardless of whatever law or policy is in place. I doubt we will see much of a rise from them. The rise (if there is one) will probably come from right wing extremists who decide it would be a good idea to film themselves entering the bathroom in hopes that their video will go viral on YouTube or that they will get an interview on Faux News.

          • ladybugavenger May 15, 2016 at 10:31 pm

            Oh here we go, throwing a scripture at me and saying I don’t have standards. Gotta love the personal attack on me by you. As if you have a clue about my standards. Im commenting on a story and you attack me personally as if you know me. Please RD if you want a man peeing next to your 5 yr old niece in a restroom by all means have your way

          • ladybugavenger May 15, 2016 at 10:35 pm

            You can repeat your points all you and shove your lgbt rights down my throat, call me a bigot, hypocrite, and a judge, I don’t care what you think- you’re twisted.

          • Rainbow Dash May 16, 2016 at 1:56 pm

            How is me suggesting that you hold yourself to the same standards you hold everyone else a “personal attack” Oh and stop putting words in my mouth. I never said you didn’t have standards, only that they are different for yourself then they are for others.

      • ladybugavenger May 16, 2016 at 7:37 pm

        Yes, you didn’t say I didn’t have standards but somehow you’re talking about my standards. When born: Men have penises, girls have vaginas..end of story….I won’t change my standard to conform to yours.

  • ladybugavenger May 14, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    I think what Obama has done will increase sexual crimes against women. The potential for boys or men going in women’s restroom for sexual stimulation is greater and no one will suspect it. Rapes? Molestation? Will they get reported? Watch and see the chaos and crimes….

  • Proud Rebel May 14, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Well, the way it is going, I guess business and governments can save a lot of money by just having one bathroom, or one locker room for everybody. This is a sick society, and getting sicker every day. God help us!

  • digger May 14, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    This all is just Sickening, I mean get a grip America.
    This … is NEWS Really?
    Ed. ellipsis.

  • 42214 May 14, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    Let’s make all public restrooms single stall with a question mark on the door. When everybody starts peeing their pants because of long lines logic will prevail and put an end to this nonsense.

  • Henry May 14, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    The LGBT lobby has been the U.S.’ most effective special interest group over the past decade. One reason is because they frame the debate in terms most advantageous to their cause. Now they’ve coined the term “gender identity” to describe what is more accurately a student’s “gender choice”. A person’s true gender identity is their biological gender – what you’re actually born with.

  • fun bag May 14, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    yuuuuuuuuupp, anyone with a penis should not be in the little girls room. if ladies (dykes, butch, etc) wanna use the mens rroom i’m ok w it–until the dedicated trans toilet rooms are retrofitted, anyway

  • fun bag May 14, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    of course if they were a passable tranny like in the article we’d never know anyway

  • .... May 15, 2016 at 12:29 am

    I think sexual crimes against men will increase,the potential for girls and women going in to men’s restrooms for sexual stimulation is greater than ever. and no one will suspect it. Rapes ? Molestation ?. will they get reported ? wait and see the chaos and sexual crimes that will be committed against men

  • .... May 15, 2016 at 12:38 am

    Ladybugs comment is pure B.S she makes it that every guy on this planet will be in a women’s restroom committing rapes and murders against females.. I posted the same stupid B.S she did if we’re going post stupid and ignorant comments then let’s have both sides do it .

    • ladybugavenger May 15, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      Good for you bringing out the other side. Wait until someone eyes your penis at the urinal…you know you feel violated when that happens 🙂 that’s why you use the stall!

      • .... May 15, 2016 at 11:28 pm

        Why is that because you want to see it ?

      • .... May 16, 2016 at 6:39 am

        Oh yeah ladybug show us all how classless and ignorant you are. ..I guess that’s all you have in this world eh ?

        • ladybugavenger May 16, 2016 at 10:53 am

          Awwwww poor dot has to call me names ’cause he knows he was violated and is scared to tell the truth 🙁

          • .... May 16, 2016 at 1:08 pm

            Ooooooh jealous eh ladtwit ?

  • Henry May 15, 2016 at 8:14 am

    The spin that Rainbow Dash and Fun Bag put on this is the typical reframing of the issue. Have Trans people been using the facilities all along – of course! Has there been a huge wave of discrimination against Trans people – no. Is it cost effective to retrofit all public restrooms for a minuscule number of Trans people – no. So why is a law / Obama directive necessary – to make them another protected special interest group.

    • Curtis May 15, 2016 at 10:33 am

      I agree Obama may have over reacted. However, don’t forget what caused the directive and that was a homophobic law passed in North Carolina. Bad laws can result in bad reactions and the result is a lot of hand wringing and agonizing over what appears to be a minuscule problem if it is a problem at all.

      • Henry May 15, 2016 at 1:02 pm

        Curtis – do some research and you’ll learn that you’re wrong about the North Carolina law that you term “homophobic” (it dealt with Trans, not homosexuals). The city of Charlotte passed a law that made it a right for people to use whatever bathroom they want (according to their gender choice). The North Carolina law superseded that, saying that people should use the bathroom that corresponds to their biological gender (I.e., what the gender is on their birth certificate).

        • Rainbow Dash May 15, 2016 at 11:01 pm

          You are absolutely right Henry.
          The NC law says that people must use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender that is listed on their Birth Certificate.

          However most states, if not all states will amend, or add an addendum to, a transsexual persons Birth Certificate to fit their “new” gender once they are able to prove they have completed a certain set of requirements that vary by state.

          • Henry May 16, 2016 at 11:01 am

            Rainbow Dash – I think we’ve arrived at a mutually agreed position – hooray! If a person has undergone the appropriate surgery to remove their old sexual organs and gain the new sexual organs corresponding to their desired gender, I think they should be able to get their birth certificate or equivalent document modified to reflect that new true “gender identity”.

          • Rainbow Dash May 16, 2016 at 12:54 pm

            Henry, respectfully, we have not. That’s a conversation for another day.

            My point was that states have varying requirements for changing someones Birth Certificate. Some states do not require reassignment surgery. In addition, the NC law allows a Law Enforcement Officer to stop a person from entering a bathroom(and charge them with a crime if they are not carrying their Birth Certificate) simply because they do not fit his or her idea of what a man or woman should look like.

          • fun bag May 16, 2016 at 1:20 pm

            ” gain the new sexual organs corresponding to their desired gender”.

            i think one needs a miracle jesus to pull that one off. or maybe science will have figured it out in 200-300yrs

          • Henry May 16, 2016 at 6:13 pm

            Rainbow Dash – the second part of my response was what I think should be a proper position. I realize that states have varying requirements. I disagree with your stated interpretation of the NC law, but I think we could continue this debate forever.

            Fun Bag – the type of surgeries you referenced are being performed today; do a google search.

  • makkie May 15, 2016 at 10:15 am

    Liberals have shown time and time again that their political agenda is infinitely more important than the lives of the american people(example Kate Steinle-sanctuary cities).Now their political agenda is also more important than the lives of our daughters nieces,wives,sisters,aunts,mothers.They want to keep construing that by being concerned for the safety of our female relatives that we are somehow bigoted against transgenders.Anything to deflect from the issue at hand huh?
    I have said it before,let me clarify one last time for you liberals-sexual predators will use ANY advantage given them to gain access to their victims.You just gave them carte blanche access to our daughters nieces,wives,sisters,aunts,mothers.Proud of yourselves ? How about this,you want to identify as a woman,then you undergo voluntary genital removal.After all a woman doesn’t need or want a pesky penis or testicles hanging around do they?
    And then, and ONLY then, MAYBE we will talk about you using the same bathroom as little girls.
    Reference the monster that just was allowed access to a transgender bathroom in chicago and very nearly strangled an 8 year old girl to death.
    These are what we are opposed to and what WILL continue to happen.So just stand by your political agenda at all costs OK,even young girls lives.Nothing more important than transgender rights huh?

  • Sapphire May 15, 2016 at 10:16 am

    I know this isn’t the topic, but I don’t understand why schools will lose money… why are children being allowed to change their gender? Children are so influenced by the media and being different or cool that they don’t make wise choices. Changing something as dramatic as one’s gender should be an adult decision and against the law for a child. Where there are multi stall restrooms, it seems that adding an extra family bathroom would solve the problem for the transgenders, and keeping the men and women restrooms as is will keep the children, parents/mainstream citizens happy. A few people shouldn’t dictate to everyone and an extra bathroom isn’t a big expense for any school or large business.

  • ladybugavenger May 15, 2016 at 10:20 am

    Keep in mind what Obama approved is for students in school. To use whatever bathroom the identify their gender with. That is for young people in school. Penis’s should use men’s restroom. I don’t want a penis in the girls bathroom. It’s not right. The world is going to hell in a hand basket.

  • fun bag May 15, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    the problem i see is some big burly bearded hairy middle age man could self-identify as female gender and be sitting in the potty stall along side your 6 yrs old daughter, and it would all be legal. regardless of any predatory intent even, would you really want middle aged men in the bathroom with little girls. Hell, anyone can change there gender identity at any time they want if there is no legal definition of an “official transgender”. And if it’s a “passable tranny” no one would ever know, so no issue, otherwise build some “gender neutral” (sex neutral in actuality) bathrooms. I’ve looked into who is pushing this sort of nonsense and degeneracy and it always leads back to powerful Jewish interest groups. It also seems to be the same groups pushing mass 3rd world immigration into europe and the US.

  • digger May 15, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Its already gone to Hell, and Obama’s “Directive” can too!

  • ladybugavenger May 16, 2016 at 10:59 am

    The equality Utah party will have appropriate signs on the bathrooms. Not just men’s and women’s…as it should be in a society that doesn’t know the difference between a man and a women…God don’t make mistakes but so many believe God made them the wrong sex…go play God and play with fire…. I won’t stop you rainbow dash and followers.

  • .... May 17, 2016 at 2:58 am

    Just put a shipment of Porta Potties in ladybugs yard and make her happy and she can be the pooper patrol and start a hate movement against non transgender males.

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