Mississippi school districts are reacting to news that they may be required to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.
A letter sent by the federal Departments of Justice and Education states that in order to protect students from discrimination schools must let transgender students use the bathroom of their choice or risk losing federal funding.
Schools in Mississippi spent their Friday trying to determine the legal ramifications of the letter. Many district leaders declined to talk about how they were handling the federal guidance. Others like Kristen Windham, the public relations director for the Rankin County School District, issued only brief statements.
“The Rankin County School District will continue our current procedures based on the law until further interpretation by our attorneys and school board,” says Windham.
“I think that it’s a sign of national insanity.”
That was Republican Representative John Moore of Brandon, the Chair of the House Education Committee.
“What it will lead people to do is to say ‘well, okay, I’m just going to make different arrangements or my children to have an education,” Moore says.
Many members of Mississippi’s Republican leadership issued similar statements. Governor Phil Bryant called the letter – quote -- the most outrageous example yet of the Obama administration forcing its liberal agenda on states that roundly reject it.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi had a decidedly different take saying the letter simply provides schools with clarity as to the legal obligations that they already had.
Parents like Kevin Goodman of Pelahatchie and Ethel Walker of Pearl also disagree with each other.
“It was separate to begin with,” says Goodman, “it should stay separate the whole time. Some rules are put down and they should be followed.”
“I just feel like whatever sex they’re claiming let them use the restroom,” says Walker. “If it’s a concern with somebody’s safety, have some security guards.”
Of the schools that did respond to inquiries about transgender bathroom policies, a majority said they were unlikely to change any policy before the end of the school year.