The Mississippi Board of Education will follow state leaders in opposing federal guidance on the use of public school bathrooms by transgender students.
The federal departments of education and justice issued an open letter to all public schools, nationwide, offering so-called “guidance” on federal anti-discrimination laws. The correspondence essentially said public schools were required under federal law to allow transgender students to use the bathroom with which they feel most comfortable.
In a unanimous decision, the Mississippi Board of Education voted Tuesday to reject that guidance.
Chairman John Kelly of Gulfport says the Board made the decision on its own.
“This is an independent board by virtue of state statute,” says Kelly. “We did what we thought was the right thing to do for school children. Every decision we make, we make it with school children in mind.”
The Board’s position is a reversal of a previous statement sent from the Mississippi Department of Education that stated it would –quote – adhere to joint guidance.
That statement brought the ire of many of the state’s Republican leadership. However, leaders like Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves took to social media to applaud the Board’s position.
During the meeting, parent’s opposed to the federal policy also let their voices be heard. Cheramie Bills of Florence says the issue is about safety.
“The problem is, I take my three girls into the bathroom and a man follows me in and decides he wants to do something with one of us, then what?” asks Bills. “Who takes liability there.”
Board members came to their decision while in executive session. The closed-door meetings are typically used to discuss personnel matters, the possible buying of selling of land or litigation. Mississippi does not have any current or pending lawsuits over transgender bathroom policies.