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Arkansas governor recommends schools 'disregard' Obama's transgender directive

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (KATV photo)

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -- Arkansas politicians are weighing in on a directive to public schools sent by President Obama regarding transgender bathroom access and other issues.

According to the letter from the Obama administration, public schools must permit transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity.

RELATED | U.S. gives directive to schools on transgender bathroom access

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson released the following statement to Channel 7 News:

The recent letter from the federal government providing guidance to Arkansas schools on gender identification is offensive, intrusive and totally lacking in common sense. There is no recognizable problem in Arkansas on this issue. The federal government is stirring the pot and meddling in the local control and administration of our schools.
As Governor, I recommend that local school districts disregard the latest attempt at social engineering by the federal government and continue to use common sense to ensure a safe and healthy environment in Arkansas schools. While the letter implies federal money could be withheld, the letter is nothing more than guidance and is not legally binding.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge sent this response to Channel 7 News:

The President is taking his abuse of power to a new level today by forcing a liberal social agenda on school-age children," said Attorney General Rutledge. "This radical and outrageous policy drastically expands the federal government's role in our local schools and raises serious safety concerns for students and parents. Threatening local districts with a loss of funding unless they comply with this non-binding 'guidance' is potentially disruptive to the entire education process and lacks all common sense. These bullying and blackmail tactics are unlawful and unconscionable.
I stand with Governor Hutchinson in urging local districts to disregard this latest attempt from the administration to force a social agenda on the states. I will also work with my colleagues across the country to determine if legal action against this directive is necessary in order to keep our students safe.


Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin posted this statement on his Facebook page:

Thank you Governor Asa Hutchinson for your common sense statement on the Obama Administration's ridiculous & misguided 'guidance' on gender identification in public schools.
This is another example of the Obama Administration eroding local control and imposing a so-called 'solution' where no problem exists. The Obama Administration's Justice Department spends its time pushing liberal dogma on the American people instead of focusing on the many serious problems facing the country.

Arkansas Congressman Bruce Westerman also released a statement on the issue:

Last night, the Obama administration made our children political pawns in a move that promotes perversion. Threatening our local schools over who uses which restrooms is an attempt to bully local schools into accepting an offensive, radical social agenda. I will not stand for this attack on children, nor will the American people. I condemn in the strongest terms the actions of the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice and will work with my House colleagues on an answer that ensures local schools continue to have local control without interference and intimidation from Washington.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) issued the following statement:

This is a shameful overreach by President Obama to push his beliefs on Arkansans and all Americans. Threatening our schools with lawsuits or the loss of federal funding for failing to comply with this directive is the latest power grab by this Administration. I reject this attempt by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education to control our schools from Washington, and support Governor Hutchinson's call for Arkansas school districts to ignore the blatant abuse of power by the President.

The ACLU of Arkansas released the following statement:

The call for schools to ignore the federal law is dangerous and irresponsible. Violation of Title IX can lead to lawsuits and possible lost funding as well as violations of students' rights.

The Senate Republican Caucus released the following statement:

The Senate Republican Caucus unanimously supports Governor Hutchinson's position regarding the Federal government's unwarranted intrusion into our local schools. We stand with the Governor urging Arkansas schools districts to continue exercising common sense without regard to continued federal overreach. We will continue to resist efforts by the Federal government to use our own tax dollars to force Arkansas to implement its radical agenda in our schools, colleges and universities.

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