Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette joined with the attorneys general of nine other states to sue the federal government over their recently-released guidance for educators on how to make their schools safe, welcoming places for transgender students. The other states are Arkansas, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
In his press release, Schuette claims to be an ally for transgender students through his OK2SAY program designed to combat violence and bullying in schools. Here is his full statement:
Every child in every school must be provided with dignity, privacy, respect and safety. That is why today, I joined a coalition of 10 attorneys general, led by the State of Nebraska, in a lawsuit that seeks to protect the dignity and privacy of all Michigan students. The Obama administration’s unilateral directive on education policy and Title IX funding is yet another example of federal overreach. The manner in which this directive was made ignored the essential role of parents in making decisions about their children, omitted participation of local schools, violated the Administrative Procedures Act and bypassed Congress’ constitutional responsibilities.
This lawsuit is not about same-sex marriage. The United States Supreme Court has ruled and this issue is settled. This lawsuit is about children and our schools.
My office takes the issue of discrimination very seriously. That is why my office works daily to protect children from bullying and address the issue of teen suicide. Last year, our program to stop school violence, OK2SAY, received 1,336 tips concerning bullying, drugs, suicide, self-harm and other potential acts of violence, allowing officials to come to the aid of students in need of help, including transgender students.
He claims that the lawsuit “seeks to protect the dignity and privacy of all Michigan students”, something that is very clearly NOT the case. The privacy of transgender students is betrayed if they are forced to use restrooms and locker rooms of the gender they do not identify with. More importantly, this lawsuit is a full-frontal assault on their dignity, forcing them to do things they’d never do otherwise and that compromise their identity. Most importantly, it puts these students into situations that may very well compromise their physical safety. While I appreciate his OK2SAY program, it is in place to RESPOND to violence and bullying, not to prevent it. It does a transgender student very little good “2SAY” after the fact if they are subjected to personal harm, injury, and violence.
State Board of Education president John Austin, who is under attack for working to create a similar guidance for Michigan educators, castigated Schuette for his actions. “Transgender school children, as all children, deserve dignity, respect and the right to be acknowledged and accepted in school, so they can go about the business of getting a great education,” he said in a statement released today.
The Obama administration was very clear about the intent of their actions: it is to protect the well-being of ALL students, including transgender students. Here is a statement released by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch:
There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex. 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. I look forward to continuing our work with the Department of Education – and with schools across the country – to create classroom environments that are safe, nurturing, and inclusive for all of our young people.
THAT is an unequivocal statement of support from the government to a vulnerable group of our fellow citizens.
Here’s another by U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.:
No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus. This guidance further clarifies what we’ve said repeatedly – that gender identity is protected under Title IX. Educators want to do the right thing for students, and many have reached out to us for guidance on how to follow the law. We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence.
Again, THIS represents an unambiguous message to transgender kids that their government supports them and wants them to succeed. It’s a value statement, really, a value most Americans share.
Bill Schuette does not represent our Michigan values or, in fact, our American values. He represents the values of a minority of transphobic bigots and this move makes Michigan and all Michiganders party to that, no matter how they feel about the issue.
This is just another in a wide range of actions that Schuette has taken over the past couple of years to ingratiate himself with the tea party and the voting bigots of our state in his bid to be governor in 2018.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, AG Schuette is out on his own on this. Gov. Rick Snyder “declined to participate.”