- Tombe / Public Domain / Creative Commons
The morning of May 13, President Barack Obama sent a letter to every U.S. school district, stating transgender students should be allowed to use restrooms matching their gender identities. His letter raised the specter of lawsuits or the loss of federal money for districts that don't comply.
Hours after Obama's letter was sent, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter released a statement of his own, calling the guidelines outlined by Obama "vast overreach" that "once again show the federal government's disregard for states' rights and local control of our schools."
In his statement, Otter argued matters like whether transgender individuals should have access to public school restrooms based on their sex or gender should be up to states and individual school districts—not the federal government. He also promised his office would seek alternatives to fulfilling Obama's mandate, including possibly taking legal action.
"I do not believe this Washington, D.C., power play will withstand the legal challenges that are sure to come," Otter wrote.
A release by Lt. Gov. Brad Little, also issued May 13, called the president's letter "unreasonable executive branch overreach" that sidesteps Congress to exercise control over states and schools.
"The Obama administration's disregard for local control in education removes the ability for local school administrators, school boards, teachers and parents to come up with solutions to these highly sensitive matters," Little wrote.
Echoing Otter and Little was Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra, who described Obama's move as "extreme top-down overreach" in a statement released Friday afternoon.
"Shame on this administration for using our most vulnerable students and threatening the loss of Title I money in a time when funding for education is already a tense topic, especially for our over 70 percent rural school districts," Ybarra wrote.