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Parents of Transgender Students Respond to State Actions on School Bathroom Regulations

Image via Flickr/SmartSign (CC BY 2.0)

Parents of transgender children here in Texas spoke up on Tuesday against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton. Both officials are leading the state’s opposition to a new directive from the Obama administration that says students need to be allowed to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. The parents say state leaders are creating a hostile environment for their children.

Patrick held yet another press conference Tuesday over the issue of transgender children and what bathroom they should use at school. This time he announced he’s asking Paxton to submit a legal opinion on whether the Fort Worth superintendent broke the law when he allowed transgender children to use the bathrooms in line with their identity, and Patrick took it a step further.

“I am announcing that I will be sending a letter to every superintendent in the state of Texas letting them know that they shouldn’t move forward on the president’s guidelines,” he said.

The president’s guidelines mandate what pretty much all schools have already been doing for years, and parents of transgender students here in Texas say that hasn’t been a problem.

But, now, state leaders want to make sure children are using the bathrooms that match the gender they were assigned at birth. LGBT activists say state leaders are violating the civil rights of transgender people for political gain, and Denton resident Amber Briggle, who has a transgender son, said this is personal.

“I’m getting a little tired of my son being used as a political pawn in a literal pissing contest right now. Texas has better things to do with our limited time and resources than to be picking a fight with Texas school kids,” she said.

Kimberly Shappley from Pearland said it took her a while to accept her young transgender daughter’s identity. Shappley, a self-proclaimed Christian and Republican, said it’s already been hard enough for her and her family. Now, she said, state leaders are making it worse.

“The superintendent of Pearland ISD who is listening to the direction of the lieutenant governor and the attorney general, wants to force my little girl into the boy’s bathroom. My number one job in life is to be a mom, and I am only here speaking now because I have to protect my little girl,” Shappley said.

Parents said Patrick’s orders are creating a hostile school environment. And when asked about that, Patrick said he was protecting non-transgender students.

“No one believes in intimidating or bullying anyone. How about all the parents that are speaking out that say ‘Wait a minute, you are picking on my kids? My daughter wants to be able to go to a girl’s restroom without a boy walking in,’ or vice versa.”

The Obama administration says violating the rights of transgender children could put federal funding for schools at risk. According to Patrick, schools in Texas get roughly $10 billion every two years from the federal government. 

Ashley Lopez covers politics and health care. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AshLopezRadio.
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