Continuing in unfortunate but predictable fashion, the Texas Senate GOP Caucus is enthralled with where people go to the bathroom.
In an open letter to Lone Star State school superintendents and trustees, the caucus tells the education officials to ignore a letter sent by President Barack Obama's administration that says
transgender students have the right to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Furthermore, restricting that right is a violation of Title IX, resulting in possible funding losses.
Title IX protects people in the U.S. from discrimination at schools on the basis of sex if those institutions receive federal financial assistance. The Texas Senate GOP Caucus, among other state Republicans, argues that Title IX doesn't protect transgender people.
So it "has urged all school districts throughout the State to ignore this letter until questions of its legality are resolved."
Senator Joan Huffman, who has twice been named by Texas Monthly as one of the state's worst legislators
, says she's just thinking of the children, not discriminating.
“We believe this issue should be addressed by using common sense and the best judgment on the part of the parties involved in a specific case, respecting the rights and privacy of ALL the children who might be affected,” Huffman says in a statement, awkward capitalization included.
Caucus Chairman Paul Bettencourt, who Equality Texas named one of the worst legislators of 2015
, took the age-old conservative route of accusing the White House of overstepping its authority.
"There has been no federal law passed and no Supreme Court ruling that would justify the President’s attempt to unilaterally change how bathrooms at educational facilities are used,” Bettencourt says in a statement that surprisingly doesn't include words in all caps.
Amusingly, both these quotes are actual lines from the letter and not statements at ALL. But that's how the Texas Senate GOP Caucus rolls, apparently.
Brandon L. Beck, chair of the Transgender Education Network of Texas, says in an open letter
that public statements are fueling misunderstanding and fear and denial of basic civil rights to the transgender community, particularly students.
"We feel that the fear filled rhetoric of many who know very little about the transgender individual has led to great misunderstanding of those who are transgender," Beck wrote.
Beck is addressing inflammatory statements made by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and a host of others, which really all blend together into a smorgasbord of bigotry that perpetuates false narratives, like saying men will dress as women so they can commit sexual assaults in bathrooms that don't correspond with their gender identity.
"There are already sections of the Texas Penal Code designed to punish that man and all sex predators who would do this. These sections are not affected by these guidelines," Beck says in the letter.
Unfortunately, Texas Republicans are likely to continue down this path as they gear up for the 2017 Legislative session where a "bathroom bill" similar to North Carolina's controversial law is likely to rear its ugly head.