Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has slammed a new guidance issued by President Barack Obama stating that every U.S. public school district should allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity.
Speaking outside the Texas Republican Convention, underway in downtown Dallas, Patrick said the unisex bathrooms decree "...will be the end of public education if this prevails. People will pull their kids out. Home schooling will explode. Private schools will increase. School choice will pass."
The New York Times reports that on Friday, the Obama administration sent a letter to every public school district in America warning them they should allow transgender students to use bathrooms consistent with their chosen gender identity, or risk losing federal funding.
Calling the transgender student accommodation the "biggest issue" since prayer was taken out of school, Patrick compared Obama to Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, according to an account in the Gospel of Matthew 26:15 in the New Testament.
"[Obama] says he is going to withhold funding if schools do not follow the policy. Well, in Texas he can keep his 30 pieces of silver. We will not yield to blackmail from the president of the United States," Patrick said.
Under the new guidance, a student simply has to do to declare himself as a gender different than his biological sex, and have a parent or guardian call and notify his or her school district that the student's identity "differs from previous representations or records."
No medical diagnosis or documents are needed to prove a transgender identity. Additionally, the directive states that offering a single-use bathroom for transgender individuals is also discriminatory.
"There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex," U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement accompanying the order.
While the guidance does not impose any new legal requirements, Education Secretary John King said in a statement that the guidance is meant to outline the expectations of school districts that receive money from the federal government in upholding Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.
NPR notes that the Obama administration has acknowledged this guidance is "new terrain" for some people and claimed it simply wants to help school districts avoid "running afoul of civil rights laws."
Speaking on Friday, Patrick argued that opposition to the guidelines "has nothing to do with anyone being against a transgender child or a gay child. This has everything to do with keeping the federal government out of local issues."
Patrick added, "I'm telling all the superintendents of Texas, you have about three weeks left in the school year, do not enact this policy."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also indicated that his state will fight the Obama administration's order.
"Obama is turning bathrooms into courtroom issues," Abbott told delegates at Texas' GOP Convention in Dallas on Thursday. "I want you to know, I am working with the governor of North Carolina, and we are going to fight back."
Currently, the Justice Department is embroiled in a legal battle with the state of North Carolina after the agency demanded the state not enforce its recently passed law requiring everyone to use state-run bathrooms consistent with the sex on their birth certificate.
Obama condemned the law last month, saying it was partly the result of politics and "emotions" that people had on the issue.
"When it comes to respecting the equal rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation, whether they're transgender or gay or lesbian, although I respect their different viewpoints, I think it's very important for us not to send signals that anybody is treated differently," the president said at a news conference in London.