Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has weighed in on the rapidly growing controversy over which bathrooms transgender people should use at schools. Following the issuing of guidance by the federal Department of Education recommending that students should use the bathroom they feel most comfortable with, federal and state legislators quickly weighed in.
This afternoon, Governor Deal issued a statement saying decisions about bathroom use and requirements should be made at the local school district level, although the state will provide guidance to those districts wanting it.
The Obama administration’s directive, recently announced by press release, to local school systems regarding accommodations for transgender students has generated confusion and controversy among parents, students and school officials. While I do not believe this directive carries the force of law, the Departments of Justice and Education have threatened to revoke federal funding from schools that fail to comply. Georgia’s constitution and state laws, however, require these decisions be made at the local level.
While our 181 school systems must each determine an appropriate response to this federal overreach, I have asked State School Superintendent Richard Woods to provide guidance to those local school systems seeking assistance and clarity on this issue in order to ensure that there will be as much uniformity across our state as possible. Until Congress acts, I assure the citizens of Georgia that the offices of the governor, attorney general and state school superintendent will work cooperatively to protect the interests of Georgia’s children from this abuse of federal executive authority.
Attorney General Sam Olens released this statement, citing executive department overreach and the principle of federalism:
I am confident that Georgia’s parents, teachers, and local communities will take every measure necessary to ensure that no child is harassed or intimidated at school for any reason—that is our responsibility as parents and leaders. But the “Guidance” Letter recently issued by the Obama Administration addresses a sensitive and complex issue with a sledgehammer. In yet another example of executive overreach, the Administration is attempting to use executive fiat to push schools toward whatever policy outcomes it desires without any legal or constitutional support, in this case relating to dorm rooms, bathrooms, and locker rooms.”
“Parents, teachers, and local communities have the right to determine the best way to address these issues without the heavy hand of the federal government threatening to take away billions of dollars of funding that schools rely on to educate our children. As the State’s chief law enforcement officer, I will take steps, when appropriate under the law, to ensure that these decisions are being made at the appropriate level, as demanded by principles of separation of powers and federalism under our Constitution.