Gov. Herbert: ‘we will not hesitate’ to fight order on transgender students’ bathroom access

Posted at 4:05 PM, May 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-13 19:22:38-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Gov. Gary Herbert came out with a statement Friday in response to guidance that was issued by the Obama administration regarding transgender students' access to bathrooms in public schools.

A joint letter from the Departments of Education and Justice was sent to schools Friday with guidelines to ensure that, “transgender students enjoy a supportive and nondiscriminatory school environment,” according to the Obama administration. 

Under the guidelines, transgender students would be allowed to use bathrooms matching their gender identity.

Gov. Herbert's office issued this statement in response:

“Today’s action by President Obama is one of the most egregious examples of federal overreach I have ever witnessed. Schools are the domain of state and local government, not our nation’s president. Unfortunately, this is exactly what I have come to expect from the Obama administration. If we have to fight this order, we will not hesitate to do so."

Click here for more details regarding Friday's announcement from the Obama administration, which comes amid heated debate over such measures like North Carolina's House Bill 2.

“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. “This guidance gives administrators, teachers and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies.”

The letter does not carry the force of law but the message was clear: Fall in line or face loss of federal funding.

State School Board leaders and conservative groups echoed Gov. Herbert's concerns.

“While it's important to look after the rights of the minority, it's also important to look after the rights of the majority,” said Stan Lockhart, a State School Board Member.

“What the administration did, the executive branch did, was really take the title 9 statute from 1972 and completely reframe it in a different way,” said Boyd Matheson, President of the Sutherland Institute.

Troy Williams with the group Equality Utah applauded the move.

“This is a historic day for transgender Americans," he said.

Williams says every student deserves to feel safe in schools.

“Transgender students live among us," he said. "They're often the victims of harassment, bullying, of discrimination.”