Hollis Milton cannot remember educating a single transgender student in his six years as superintendent for West Feliciana Parish schools, and yet his district may still be compelled to allow students to choose whichever bathroom they want to use, under the Obama administration’s May 13 transgender directive.
“I don’t remember having a single conversation about this,” Milton, who is also president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, told the New Orleans Advocate. “This just came out of nowhere.”
His district educates 2100 students every year, and not one of them in his time as superintendent has requested that a school allow access to bathrooms based on personal decisions of gender. Should his district, and the others in Louisiana, fail to comply with the mandate, they would collectively risk losing $1.1 billion in federal education funding per year, according to the Advocate.
Other districts have a slightly different problem. The general counsel for the second largest school district in Louisiana, Domoine Rutledge, told the Advocate that only one or two transgender students are enrolled in his district’s schools each year. Schools in the East Baton Rouge Parish system – which includes the city of Baton Rouge – gave those students access to a private bathroom, solving the problem without disruption.
“The feds frown upon that now,” Rutledge told the Advocate.
The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts in Natchitoches, on the other hand, has educated a ‘handful’ of transgender students in past years, according to the Advocate. They, too, found a solution, and have succeeded in accommodating students without issue.
“It’s never been an issue for us, and we’ve always been able to accommodate students,” the school’s executive director, Patrick Widhalm, told the Advocate.
Louisiana State Attorney General Jeff Landry sent a letter to school leaders on May 18, saying they were free to ignore Obama’s directive until courts ruled on its constitutionality. Landry joined 10 other state attorneys general six days later to sue the federal government over the directive.