GOP Says Obama Overreached on Transgender Bathroom Rule

Access issue should be decided locally, Republican senators say

A protester across the street from the North Carolina state legislative building in Raleigh demonstrates against the state bill regulating bathroom use for transgender people. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
A protester across the street from the North Carolina state legislative building in Raleigh demonstrates against the state bill regulating bathroom use for transgender people. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
Posted May 19, 2016 at 12:21pm

Republican senators are calling President Barack Obama’s recent guidance allowing transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity just another example of executive overreach.

“Every transgender person is someone’s child and should be treated with respect. But that does not justify a federal executive agency acting as a national school board, telling 100,000 public schools how to resolve this issue,” 25 GOP senators wrote in a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Education Secretary John King.


[U.S. Tells Public Schools to Give Transgender Students Bathroom Access]

The Obama administration issued the guidance last week amid dueling lawsuits between the Justice Department and North Carolina. The Tar Heel State is defending a recently passed law that prohibits transgender individuals from using a bathroom that does not coincide with their gender at birth. Both North Carolina GOP senators, Richard M. Burr and Thom Tillis, signed onto the Thursday letter.


[N.C. Senator: Congress Should Stay Out of Bathroom Issue]

Public schools are not required to follow the administration’s guidance, but the districts do face a threat of losing federal education funds if they do not comply.

The GOP senators, led by Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa accused the administration of attempting to make laws, and argued that this issue should be decided at the local level and resolved through the courts.


[North Carolina Sues Over Transgender Bathroom Law]

“If the solutions developed by states and communities violate the equal protection guarantees of the U.S. Constitution or federal civil rights laws,” the senators wrote, “federal courts are available to protect students’ rights.”

The senators pointed out that Congress did attempt to address this issue through an amendment to an education overhaul last year, but the amendment was not adopted.

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