Parents of transgender children and supporters of the LGBTQ community gathered outside the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Tuesday to express their distaste for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s handling of a directive requiring schools to implement transgender bathroom rights.
The directive, issued by the Obama administration last month, compels the nation’s school districts to allow transgender students the right to use the restroom or locker room that matches their gender identity.
The rally was organized by the advocacy group Equality Texas, which held a counter press conference in response to the lieutenant governor’s statements, which encouraged Texas’ public school superintendents to ignore Obama’s sweeping directive.
Patrick added that he intends to send letters to school officials informing them that they will be supported if they choose to violate the federal transgender policy.
Texas officials pledge support for schools that violate transgender policy
When asked if transgender students deserve equal rights, Patrick told the media, “Transgender students deserve the rights of everyone else [but that] does not mean they get to use the girl’s room if they’re a boy.”
Protesters, which included LGBTQ supporters and four parents of transgender children, accused the lieutenant governor of spreading anti-transgender hatred through “dangerous rhetoric that places their vulnerable children in greater harm.” They also accused Patrick of using transgender children as pawns for political gain.
Ann Elder, who adopted a transgender child named Benjamin, said the state has created a hostile environment for transgender children.
“I’m here to tell you Dan Patrick: You are endangering my child’s life. Because you have now told everyone in the state of Texas that it’s okay to harass my child and that it’s okay for the school district to stop supporting them,” she said.
Transgender rights advocates say Texas is creating hostile environment for transgender children
The lieutenant governor defends his position, arguing that the privacy and safety of students is being sacrificed in order to accommodate transgender bathroom rights.
Texas and 11 other states have filed lawsuits against Obama’s sweeping directive, vowing not to comply. So far that list includes Oklahoma, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maine, Louisiana, Utah, Arizona, Georgia, and Kansas.
The New York Times reported that while the directive is not legally binding, is does contain “an implicit threat: Schools that do not abide by the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law could face lawsuits or a loss of federal aid.”
Texas was the first state to challenge Obama’s order via a lawsuit, which accuses the federal government of performing a massive social experiment in the workplace and in schools.
“Defendants have conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights,” the lawsuit reports.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton accused the Obama administration of skipping the democratic process and rewriting the law. “This represents just the latest example of the current administration’s attempts to accomplish by executive fiat what they couldn’t accomplish through the democratic process in Congress,” he said.