On May 20, Arizona State Rep. Bob Thorpe spearheaded an effort to call on Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas to fight back against the threats by federal officials regarding transgender policies. The letter is in response to constituents concerned about the “threatening” May 13, 2016 letter from U.S. Attorney General Lynch and U.S. Department of Education Secretary John B. King Jr.
The letter was co-signed by Senator Sylvia Allen, and representatives Brenda Barton, Paul Boyer, Karen Fann, Mark Finchem, Vince Leach, and Anthony Kern.
Thorpe makes the signers’ position very clear in the letter. He writes, “Please understand that this is not a moral issue, it is a legal state’s rights issue, and as a sovereign state, Arizona is protected by the 10th Amendment and thus is under no legal obligation to provide these accommodations merely based upon the suggestion, or coercion, of the Obama administration.
The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education released joint “guidance” based on their interpretation of Title IX and its application to transgender students.
In its “guidance” the Obama administration threatens to take the handful of federal money that is returned to state education coffers away if the state does not allow students who identify as transgendered to use the school bath and locker rooms of their chosen gender.
The guidance requires “that when students or their parents, as appropriate, notify a school that a student is transgender, the school must treat the student consistent with the student’s gender identity. A school may not require transgender students to have a medical diagnosis, undergo any medical treatment, or produce a birth certificate or other identification document before treating them consistent with their gender identity.”
The guidance also explains schools’ “obligation to treat students consistent with their gender identity even if their school records or identification documents indicate a different sex; and allow students to participate in sex-segregated activities and access sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity.”
Should Arizona run afoul of the Obama administration’s rules, it risks losing less than 12 percent of its education funding.
Information On School Funding In Short SupplySchool District Superintendent
Thorpe advises Brnovich and Douglas in his letter: “Article I, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution makes it perfectly clear that Congress has the sole Federal legislative authority. Due to our nation’s long established separation of powers, legislative authority cannot be exercised by the Executive, including the President, the Attorney General or any other member of the Executive branch. There are no Federal laws stating that schools must provide these accommodations for transgender students, and there have been no court rulings upholding the Obama administration’s current opinion concerning this matter.”
Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom has filed two federal lawsuits related to the federal edict. Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco said earlier this month, “The administration’s new guidelines simply reinforce what has been abundantly clear already—that it has a political goal of forcing women to share restrooms and locker rooms with men across the nation and will spread falsehoods about federal law to achieve its aims. This is precisely why we have filed two federal lawsuits, one in Illinois and one in North Carolina, on behalf of students and parents who are understandably concerned about their children. Solutions exist to accommodate everyone without violating anyone’s privacy rights, but the administration won’t entertain those solutions because of its preference to unlawfully impose its political will through threats and intimidation.”
The letter reads:
Dear Arizona Superintendent of Schools Diane Douglas and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich:
Legislators have been receiving numerous complaints from constituents who are very concerned with the threatening tone of the May 13, 2016 letter from U.S. Attorney General Lynch and U.S. Department of Education Secretary King.
The letter coerces our nation’s K-12 public schools and colleges to ensure that transgender students must be allowed to use the gender designated restrooms, changing rooms and locker facilities of their choosing, not necessarily that of their biological gender. It has been estimated that approximately 0.3% of U.S. individuals identify themselves as transgender.
Article I, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution makes it perfectly clear that Congress has the sole Federal legislative authority. Due to our nation’s long established separation of powers, legislative authority cannot be exercised by the Executive, including the President, the Attorney General or any other member of the Executive branch. There are no Federal laws stating that schools must provide these accommodations for transgender students, and there have been no court rulings upholding the Obama administration’s current “opinion” concerning this matter.
Please understand that this is not a moral issue, it is a legal state’s rights issue, and as a sovereign state, Arizona is protected by the 10th Amendment and thus is under no legal obligation to provide these accommodations merely based upon the suggestion, or coercion, of the Obama administration.
Under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, for example, for a law to be enacted requiring public schools within the states to provide these accommodations for transgender students, both Houses of Congress must first pass a constitutional law that is in pursuance of the U.S. Constitution and does not exceed the limited enumerated powers of Congress, the President must sign it, and it must withstand legal challenges and judicial review.
In the letter, the Obama administration threatens that it will withhold federal educational funding from schools and states if their transgender demands are not followed. It is important to remember that, according to the Arizona Auditor General, in the 2014-2015 budget years, only a relatively small amount of ADE funding actually came from the Federal government. Only about 8% of ADE’s total educational funding was from Federal dollars, about 3% of Federal ADE funding was specifically for food programs, and about 1% of the Federal educational funding was for non-ADE food programs.
It is troubling when you consider that the Obama administration is more than willing to defund and potentially harm the educations of the vast majority of our nation’s students in order to further its liberal political agenda. Some might refer to this “carrot and stick” approach as nothing more than blackmail, by threatening to withhold our taxpayer’s dollars as leverage against our citizens obedience to intimidation by the Obama administration.
Requiring these accommodations for transgender students would be a violation of the Constitutionally guaranteed 1st Amendment religious rights, civil rights and the moral traditions of the vast majority (99.7%) of Arizona students and their families, specifically those who do not identify themselves as transgender.
Therefore, the undersigned respectfully request that both the Arizona Superintendent of Schools and the Attorney General make public statements and/or official findings similar to the conclusions stated within this letter.
Representative Bob Thorpe
Co-signed by: Senator Sylvia Allen, Representatives Brenda Barton, Paul Boyer, Karen Fann, Mark Finchem, Vince Leach, and Anthony Kern
cc: Governor Doug Ducey, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, each Arizona School District Superintendent