The Kansas State Board of Education voted unanimously on Tuesday to ignore the Obama administration’s policy that transgender students should be able to use the bathroom according to what gender they identify as.
At the meeting, the state school board left the decision of how to deal with transgender student in the bathroom to each individual Kansas school district. The board meeting followed a meeting last month in which board members reached a similar conclusion, but declined to make a public statement about their decision.
In a statement, the school board said, “We must continue to provide our schools the flexibility needed to work with their students, families and communities to effectively address the needs of the students they serve.”
It is not clear whether Kansas will lose its $479 million in federal funding because of the state board’s decision. Scott Gordon, the general counsel for Kansas’s education department, told AP that the potential loss of federal funding will not affect the entire state: If one school does not enact the bathroom policy, the entire state will not lose its funding.
Some of Kansas’ GOP leaders charge that President Barack Obama’s policy is federal overreach.
In a letter to various school leaders, Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp wrote, “Neither our girls or boys should be forced to undress in the presence of individuals who are of the opposite biological sex. Our children should also not be subjected to a greater risk of threats from predators who seek to do them harm.”
Stephanie Mott, a transgender speaker and educator, told AP, “I think it’s necessary for us to make sure that all children have a safe place to go to school, including LGBT kids and transgender kids. When there are states and schools that are refusing to do that, then I think it’s appropriate for us to do what we need to do to protect our kids.”
Lawrence and Topeka Public schools in Kansas offer gender neutral bathrooms for their students and allow transgenders students to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity.
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