DALLAS — Texas' lieutenant governor says the state is prepared to forfeit billions of dollars in federal funding for public schools following an Obama administration directive over bathroom access for transgender students.
Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Friday that Texas "will not yield to blackmail" and urged superintendents to defy the new federal guidance. The directive says public schools are obligated to treat transgender students in a way matching their gender identity.
The guidance doesn't impose new legal requirements, but rather clarifies expectations for districts receiving federal funds.
Patrick says Texas receives roughly $10 billion in federal education dollars. He didn't say how that money might be replaced. Patrick's remarks came only moments after more than half the state's 1,200 school districts lost a major lawsuit claiming that Texas unconstitutionally underfunds public schools.
Several Central Texas school districts have released statements on their bathroom and harassment policies:
Round Rock ISD believes the safety and security of all students is the most important component of a functional teaching and learning environment. We also work to ensure the privacy of students and protect their rights for self expression and voice. Our school leaders, including principals, assistant principals, and counselors, work well with students and parents on a case-by-case basis to assess any concerns regarding safety, including making special accommodations when appropriate. We encourage any student or parent with a concern to please reach out to their principal to share and work out a solution.
The District prohibits acts of any kind, including harassment, based on race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or any other basis prohibited by law (e.g., cyberbullying via social network sites). Retaliation against anyone involved in the complaint process is a violation of District policy and is prohibited. Discrimination against a student is defined as conduct directed at a student on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or any other basis prohibited by law, that adversely affects the student.
(AP contributed to this report.)