What reads like an order, sounds like an order and school officials across America interpret as an order is, in fact, only advice.
That was the essence of comments that emerged from White House spokesman Josh Earnest Friday as state after state blazed with anger at a federal letter to schools regarding transgender access to bathrooms.
“The guidance does not add additional requirements to the applicable law,” Earnest said. “The guidance does not require any student to use shared facilities when schools make alternate arrangements.”
“But what the framework does provide is advice for how school administrators can protect the dignity and safety of every student under their charge…This is not an enforcement action,” he said.
However the document itself makes it clear that a condition of getting federal education aid is that a school comply with Title IX rules that ban discrimination according to sex, language the letter from the Departments of Justice and Education said means gender identity.
The letter also said that refusing to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms they want based on gender identity could be interpreted as a civil rights violation.
State officials from many states were not in the least doubt that the letter was a direct order.
“This directive is yet another example of federal overreach negatively impacting our state’s schools,” Arizona schools chief Diane Douglas said in a statement. “My office would never dictate how locally elected school boards should manage their restroom facilities, and certainly would not do so under the threat of lost funding.”
“Every local community across Arizona is unique, and I know that the people who live in those communities should be making the decisions when it comes to this and many other education issues,” Douglas said.
Arizona State Senate President Andy Biggs, a Republican, said the edict violates the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which limits federal powers in policy areas reserved to the states. It also violates even deeper principles, he said.
The order “has no place in the value system that we seek to instill in our children from their earliest age. The rules and norms of modern society may change, but biology will not,” he said.
h/t: Independent Journal