Florida Gov. Rick Scott was pushed Thursday to join a lawsuit filed by 11 other states over the Obama administration’s ordering school districts to permit transgender students to use their bathroom of choice.
Florida Family Policy Council President John Stemberger said Scott should show leadership and “protect our children” by adding Florida to the states challenging the interpretation that education’s Title IX law includes gender identity.
Attorney General Pam Bondi last week turned down a request from state Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, to issue an opinion on the constitutionality of the White House’s action.
Bondi wrote, “we do not issue legal opinions on federal law.” The move seemed to signal a reluctance on the part of Florida to weigh into the simmering issue.
While earlier staying quiet on the issue, Scott now is becoming more fiery.
He told reporters Wednesday at a jobs and education summit in Orlando that he was angered by the administration’s threat to withhold federal dollars from states that refused to comply with the so-called guidance letter.
“To me, it looks like just blackmail,” Scott said. “The federal government takes our tax dollars — because, remember, all their tax dollars are money that comes from our citizens all around this country — and then they give that back to us, and then they change the deal. And they say, ‘Oh, now we’re going to hold this money back from you.'”
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was asked Wednesday to gauge the constitutionality of President Obama’s “guidance letter” to school districts ordering them to permit transgender students to use their bathroom of choice.
Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, who made the request, argued that Obama is sidestepping both Congress and his own federal rulemaking requirements in issuing the letter.
Adkins is running for superintendent of Nassau County schools.
“To craft a special class of rights for certain individuals and to allow people to make decisions based on how they identify their gender creates a chaotic environment for the school administrators,” said Adkins, chair of the House K-12 Education subcommittee.
“This is illogical and harms the greater need for an orderly learning environment that promotes the safety and well-being of all students,” she added.
UPDATE: Bondi sent a letter back to Adkins saying “we do not issue legal opinions on federal law.”
The guidance letter from leaders at the Justice and Education departments says public schools are obligated to treat transgender students in a way that matches their gender identity, even if their education records or identity documents indicate a different sex.
Not far from Adkins’ home county, Clay County School Superintendent Charlie Van Sant Jr., has said his district will not comply with the federal directive.