The Kansas State Board of Education voted unanimously on Tuesday to ignore a directive from President Obama’s administration that public schools allow transgender students to use restrooms matching their gender identity, and instead the board left decisions up to school districts.
What remains unclear is whether the 10-0 vote will endanger over $479 million in federal aid, or about 10 percent of the state’s education budget.
Scott Gordon, general counsel for the state’s education department, said that the threat of loss of federal funding is not sweeping. The entire state would not lose federal education funding if one school is found out of compliance with the anti-discrimination law. Gordon told The Associated Press that he didn’t think the board’s statement would jeopardize federal aid.
He noted that only one transgender student had filed a complaint for alleged discrimination with the Office of Civil Rights in 2015, which board members cited as proof that districts already have adequate regulations in place.
“We must continue to provide our schools the flexibility needed to work with their students, families and communities to effectively address the needs of the students they serve,” the state board said in their statement.
Tuesday’s board meeting follows one last month in which members denounced the federal decree but voted against issuing a public statement rebuking it. Members said at the time that they needed more time to discuss the matter with attorneys and to review school districts’ policies.
The board has general supervision of schools and can set academic standards and requirements to remain accredited. It has the power to enforce a statewide policy.
State GOP leaders have called the decree an encroachment on local control, and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced earlier this month that the state will sue the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education, which issued the decree. The Republican-led Senate also issued a nonbinding resolution condemning the federal mandate.
Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp sent letters to school leaders in Western and Central Kansas on Friday urging them to ignore the guidelines, despite the threat of losing federal funding.
“Neither our girls or boys should be forced to undress in the presence of individuals who are of the opposite biological sex,” Huelskamp said in the letter. “Our children should also not be subjected to a greater risk of threats from predators who seek to do them harm.”
Under the state board’s statement, school districts will be allowed to continue practicing regulations that mirror the federal directive. Lawrence and Topeka Public Schools allows students to use the facilities that match their gender identity, but some gender neutral bathrooms are also available for students who want increased privacy.
Transgender activist Stephanie Mott said that students whose gender is “invalidated” are at an increased risk of harassment and suicide attempts.
“I think it’s necessary for us to make sure that all children have a safe place to go to school, including LGBT kids and transgender kids,” Mott said. “When there are states and schools that are refusing to do that, then I think it’s appropriate for us to do what we need to do to protect our kids.”
Texas is leading an 11-state lawsuit that accuses the federal government of turning schools into “laboratories for a massive social experiment” with the directive. At the time Schmidt announced Kansas would challenge the law, he said he had not yet decided whether to join that lawsuit or sue separately.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
If they are not ‘offended’ being called Transgenders, why are they ‘offended’ when given their own bathrooms separate from the normal boys and girls bathrooms?
A bit of hypocrisy there !
Why should 99.9% of us have to “make accommodations for” .000034% of our population?
That’s right tell those kids make that adult decision. When you an adult and if you don’t feel safe where you belong as far as the parts God gave your take your ass to the nurse and take care of personal nuisances there .see you when you get back ..DUH !!!!
I live in texas and I pay a separate bill at the end of every year .Called school tax and every year when I pay this bill . Hough some times I grip “School taxes are ridiculous high this year ” I am never reluctant or company any further than that . I however do expect that when I pay this bill that goes to the school distinct I live in which my kids attended and now my grandkids attend that this money goes to educate and protect my grandkids as it did my kids how is it that such a tiny percentage of students maybe even none in my district get punished over a brand spanking new gender that has been created like cartoons is gonna have the right to decide my kids don’t have the right to privacy or a safe place .who is to say a new gender created by liberals all of a sudden is more important than probably really close to 100% of the population in our public schools a kid who feels like they want to be a girl instead of a boy or visa verse is and has been confused by a person who did not say ” no your not a girl you are a boy ” when they asked am I a boy or a girl .you don’t say ” what do you feel like .you say you are a boy or you are a girl.and further I do not believe a minor should be allowed to make such a huge adult decision when they can’t vote or own property or consent to sex . Drink alcohol. Or smoke .tell that kid you are a damn boy!!!!
I’m sure they can cover 10% of their budget with cutting unnecessary spending to keep the right to make their own decisions about their own schools. Go Kansas!
Arthur Hartsock says
I’m 99% certain that events in the near future will make us forget about such trivial matters. If a student can’t tell if they’re boy or girl, then they’re too damn stupid to be in school-and the teachers are too stupid to be teaching as well. But within a couple of years no one will remember this BS. More important problems coming for sure.
We have rest rooms that indicate “Men Women”, “Boys Girls”, “Lads Lassies”, and “Employees Only” so perhaps we need to have a rest room that is marked “Perverts” as well.
My kids should not be forced to give up there privacy or safety for one kid tell him and her if they ask no son you are not a girl you are a boy if your little baby daughters ask . Tell your princess no , you are a girl not a boy don’t confuse a small young kid by leaving it up to them to figure out what gender they have been assigned by God they should not be given such a heavy job they should not have a job at all there gender has already been decided .it does not have anything to do with sexually. A young kid is a sexual shame on you as a parent to give them the job of deciding boy or girl