The Obama Administration’s obsession with social engineering combined with federal intrusiveness in local affairs has reached epic proportions. In a letter to school districts across the country the administration issued guidance this past Friday directing public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity. A joint letter from the Departments of Education and Justice went to schools with guidelines to ensure that “transgender students enjoy a supportive and nondiscriminatory school environment.” The sweeping declaration — which also said that school districts must integrate transgender students into locker rooms, athletic teams and other facilities consistent with their gender identity — was celebrated as a civil rights victory by some and criticized as an unjustifiable federal incursion into local matters by others.
“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. “This guidance gives administrators, teachers and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies.” Even more difficult is that the administration emphasized that the guidance in the directive “Makes clear that both federal agencies treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX.”
This newest brand of liberal rhetoric, now formalized by directive, is being framed by the administration as a human rights issue and non-compliance will be viewed in terms of discriminatory human rights violations. Governors across the country, led by North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory have decried the executive overreach of the administration and asked Congress to address the issue. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick joined Governor McCrory along with Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert and others requesting that the issue be handled at the state level. North Carolina and the federal government have already filed mutual suits over the issue.
“Most Americans, including this governor, believe that government is searching for a solution to a problem that has yet to be defined. Now, both the federal courts and the U.S. Congress must intercede to stop this massive executive branch overreach, which clearly over steps constitutional authority,” Governor McCrory said in a statement
The fact that the edicts over this issue set aside centuries of common sense to address the possible discomfort of a minuscule minority in our country is not the most troubling aspect of all this trash talking. What is most troubling is that you have an administration poised to leverage the issue into a human rights violation with unpleasant implications for all of those non-compliant. And the professed non-compliance is mounting quickly in states from North Carolina to Tennessee to Texas to Utah. Many states with conservative leadership are lining up to take a stand against this intrusion.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, reiterated in a statement that the guidance was not federal. “This is the kind of issue that parents, schools boards, communities, students and teachers should be allowed to work out in a practical way with a maximum amount of respect for the individual rights of all students. Insofar as the federal government goes, it’s up to Congress to write the law, not the executive departments,” the Tennessee Republican said.
Governor Gary Herbert weighed in on the issue calling the directive “One of the most egregious examples of federal overreach I have ever witnessed. Unfortunately, this is exactly what I have come to expect from the Obama administration,” Herbert said in a statement last Friday. “If we have to fight this order, we will not hesitate to do so.”
One thing should be clear on the procedural evolution of this issue. The Obama Administration is seeking more than a feel-good stance on transgender issues. There looms a larger underlying play here. Practical costs and applications aside, what happens when private universities, churches or non-profits defy the policy based on premises of established policies or religious freedom? Title IX non-compliance could be invoked upon numerous institutions of higher learning. President Obama has already suggested that non-compliant local schools may risk forfeiting federal funding. What happens when larger institutions cannot abide such social engineering within the scope of their organizations? Are student loans, grants, tax exempt status or other protections on the table as a penalty for such “human rights” offenders? The Obama administration is grabbing a large hammer from its tool chest to wield against any state or private institution that would stand against their interpretation of political correctness.
While this directive may satisfy the feel-good proclivities of liberals, it does so at a huge potential cost, both socially and politically. The directive is both divisive and troubling in its attempt to be “inclusive”. As with most liberal policy making of late, the concept of inclusion only comes with the requirement of seeing things only in through a left-leaning lens, practical or legal considerations be hanged. Taken as a whole, such a directive causes more damage, legal difficulties and confusion than it offers specific protections. Additionally, it sets a framework for economic consequence to those who would offer a different opinion or interpretation. And for just such reasons, the issue needs to proceed from rhetorical trash talk to a political and legal battleground. Expect many more states to rapidly follow the example of North Carolina.