Seventy-three House Republicans are reportedly challenging the Obama administration's authority to issue schools guidance on the restroom use of their trans student population.
Texas state representative Bill Flores, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, is urging "members to sign on to a letter, pushing the Departments of Education and Justice to detail how, and on what authority, they plan to enforce the new guidelines," as The Daily Signal, a conservative news site run by the right-wing Heritage Foundation, reports.
"Americans are incensed by President Obama's blatant executive overreach," Flores told the conservative website. "Now they are threatening school funding over an issue that should rightfully be left to the states. Their actions are politically motivated and Congress has every responsibility to challenge them."
That statement urges the Obama administration to "explain why schools must disregard the privacy, 'discomfort,' and emotional strain imposed on other students during use of bathroom, showering, and changing facilities and overnight accommodations as these schools comply with this guidance."
This letter -- which has been, thus far, cosigned by 73 members of the House -- was penned in response to the Department of Justice's recent proclamation on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
On May 4, Vanita Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ, reaffirmed the federal government's position that these pieces of legislation, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of national origin, race, and sex, also extend to gender identity. This stance was outlined in a 2014 memo clarifying the government's understanding of Title IX.
Following Gupta's statement, as well as a speech by Attorney General Loretta Lynch pledging the administration's support for transgender protections, the Obama administration announced that it will be sending a 25-page document to schools across the United States. That policy will urge administrators to allow trans students to use the bathroom that most closely corresponds with their gender identity.
North Carolina state representative Mark Walker, who authored the letter, believes that the Obama directive poses a danger to schools. Walker told The Daily Caller, a conservative website, that the decision of trans bathroom access should be up to individual administrators to make, not the federal government or youth. He said it allows students to make up the rules "from one week to the next."
"If a 17 year-old young man wants to go shower with the girls on the soccer team," Walker argued, "he's allowed to do that because of his will or his gender fluidity for the week [he] can tell the teacher 'this [is] what I'm feeling, this is where I'm at' and she has no recourse to step in."
Walker's fear, however, is unfounded. In the more than 200 localities across the United States that have passed nondiscrimination laws providing equal access in public accommodations, there's never been a reported case of a cisgender person -- student or otherwise -- pretending to be trans to gain access to the opposite-sex facilities.
The Congressman's letter further asks the administration to clarify which court rulings "delineate the statutory authority under which the ED and DOJ issued this guidance." It also inquires as to whether "the ED and DOJ will recognize or accommodate rights of conscience and privacy in an individual's or institution's non-compliance with this guidance."
This statement is strikingly similar to an earlier dispatch from Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia, issued by their states' attorneys general. "The so-called 'significant guidance' issued by the Obama Administration raises more questions than it answers, just as it creates concerns among anyone who believes sex is a biological fact and not a personal preference," Texas state representative Ken Paxton argued in a May 17 statement.
These states have "hinted at legal action" to challenge the Obama administration's stance on Title IX and Title VII, reports Talking Points Memo.
At least one state has already filed a lawsuit to do so. On May 9, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory announced that the state would be suing the federal government to uphold House Bill 2, its controversial anti-LGBT legislation. Passed in March, the law forces trans people to use public restrooms and locker rooms that do not correspond with their gender identity.
The Obama administration will have until May 23 to respond to the Walker letter.