"The end of public education": Republicans predictably flip out after Obama issues national guidelines to accommodate transgender students

"He's not a King," Texas' Republican governor complained while his lieutenant accused the president of blackmail

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published May 13, 2016 6:49PM (EDT)

Trump administration pulls back from transgender bathroom lawsuits (AP)
Trump administration pulls back from transgender bathroom lawsuits (AP)

Hours after it was first reported that the Obama administration planned to release a directive notifying public school officials that transgender students must be allowed to use the restroom and locker room facilities corresponding with their gender identity on Friday, one state's top Republican officials were already forcefully fighting back on the anti-discrimination measure, comparing the federal guidelines to the removal of prayer from public schools and accusing the president of blackmail.

Although the directive doesn't have legal teeth, Texas, which inched closer to some conservatives' dream of seceding from the United States this week, announced it would fight the White House's directive in a tweet from its governor, Greg Abbott:

Even Donald Trump was sure to steer clear of a direct critique on the protective measure, refusing to take a hardline stance during his daily round of morning news show interviews Friday.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, however, went even further than his boss in a press conference announcing Texas' opposition to the measure to protect transgender students.

"I believe it is the biggest issue facing families and schools in America since prayer was taken out of public schools," the right-wing conservative told reporters on Friday, vowing that Texas will not be "blackmailed" by the Obama administration.

"This will be the end of public education, if this prevails,” Patrick predicted. “People will pull their kids out, homeschooling will explode, private schools will increase, school choice will pass.”

"He says he's going to withhold funding if schools do not follow the policy," Patrick said, referring to the threat of lawsuits and cuts in funding loom over public school systems that continue to discriminate against transgender students. "Well, in Texas, he can keep his 30 pieces of silver. We will not yield to blackmail from the president of the United States."

"So Barack Obama, if schools don't knuckle down to force girls showering with boys and force 8-year-old girls to have to endure boys coming into their bathroom, he's taking money from the poorest of the poor," Patrick continued. "The president of the United States will be ending the free breakfast and free lunch program. That's what he's saying":

We will not sell out our children to the federal government. And the people of Texas and the Legislature will find a way to find as much of that money as we can if we are forced to. There is no compromise on this issue," he said. "This is a modern-day, come-and-take-it issue, and the president of the United States, like the superintendent of Fort Worth, is not coming and taking our children.


Texas Sen. John Cornyn said the guidance "is unwelcomed," adding that "what the president needs to do is focus on his job":

Republican Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan told Fox News that the new transgender accommodations could tie hands of those who wish to protect students from so-called "dangerous situations," perpetuating the repeatedly debunked bathroom predator myth.

The #NeverTrump brigade's never-going-to-happen long shot favorite for the Republican presidential nomination Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse had an early negative reaction to the guidelines:

And his complaints of a lawless president were, of course, echoed by conservatives on Twitter:


By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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