Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, as one parent of a transgender teen described it at the Texas State Capitol Wednesday, has gotten himself into a "literal pissing contest." Still defiant over a White House directive that schools receiving federal funding must allow students to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity or risk losing that funding, Patrick took to a lectern in Austin like he was John Calhoun in 1832.
"I am also sending a letter to all Texas school districts this week urging them not to adopt President Obama’s transgender guidelines, which do not have the force of law," Patrick said. The president’s threat of withholding federal funds is just a threat. By standing together we will demonstrate Texas will not be threatened or blackmailed by a policy that doesn’t make sense and puts our girls and women at risk."
Patrick also asked his brother in bathroom interference, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, for an opinion as to whether Fort Worth ISD's recently adopted trans-friendly bathroom policies are in violation of state law. The lieutenant governor again called for the resignation of Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner.
"If he doesn't pull down the policy, the school board should fire him," Patrick said, "and if the school board doesn't fire him, the people of the Fort Worth Independent School District will have to hold the school board accountable."
In the meantime, Patrick said, he's planning on leading the Texas Legislature to do something about the scourge of people using the bathroom they feel most comfortable in during the next session in 2017.
"When we have a rogue, runaway superintendent and a rogue, runaway school board, then the Legislature this coming-up session is going to have to look at this issue because the law is clear," Patrick said. "So what do parents do when the superintendent and the school board ignores them? When the superintendent and school board breaks the law, if that's the case? The parents are going to look to us."
Parents of transgender kids gathered outside the capitol to take on Patrick and Paxton.
"I'm here to tell Dan Patrick: You — specifically you — are endangering my child's life," Ann Elder, the mother of a transgender boy named Benjamin, said. "Because you have now told everyone in the state of Texas that it's OK to harass my child, that it's OK for the school district to stop supporting them."
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.