Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) on Friday morning blasted the Obama administration’s new letter directing schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
“We will not yield to blackmail from the President of the United States,” Patrick said in a press conference responding to the administration’s letter. “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 that the debate over bathrooms “is the biggest issue facing families and schools in America since prayer was taken out of public schools.”
Patrick also said that President Obama will “withhold funding if schools do not follow the policy.”
“The schools in Texas get about $10 billion over our two-year budget of federal funds. A majority of that is for free breakfast and free lunch through the food program,” he said. “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. The President of the United States will be ending the free breakfast and free lunch program. That’s what he’s saying.”
In the letter sent to schools on Friday, the Justice and Education departments did not explicitly threaten to take away federal funding if schools fail to comply with the new guidelines, but said that schools receiving federal funds cannot discriminate on the basis of sex. The Obama administration has argued that Title IX’s protections on the basis of sex include gender identity, but courts have yet to offer a definitive ruling on the administration’s interpretation.
The federal government has filed a lawsuit against North Carolina over its law keeping transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice. While the administration has said it will cut off federal funding to the state if it enforces the law, the feds have not taken steps to cut off funding yet.
The lieutenant governor said that the letter will drive parents to take their parents out of schools and participate in voucher programs.
“The president is going to find Democrat families are going to push back against this, Republican families, black families, brown families, white families. This goes against the values of so many people. It has nothing to do with anyone being against a transgender child or a gay child,” Patrick said.
Patrick dove into the national debate over transgender bathroom use this week by calling for the reversal of the Fort Worth school district’s new policy accommodating transgender students. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday signaled that he would back North Carolina in its legal fight with the Obama administration.