Legislators want in on the school bathroom scaremongering party | Arkansas Blog

Legislators want in on the school bathroom scaremongering party


Rep. Stephen Meeks. - ARKANSAS HOUSE
  • Rep. Stephen Meeks.
The Arkansas Legislative Council this afternoon will consider a resolution by Rep. Stephen Meeks (R-Greenbrier) that "encourages" public schools and colleges to disregard the federal government's guidance on the issue of gender identity and public restroom use.

Last week, the Obama administration said schools must allow students who are transgender to use the bathroom that correspond to their gender identity. Gov. Hutchinson responded with a statement recommending Arkansas schools disregard this "latest attempt at social engineering by the federal government" and stating that the Obama administration's letter is "not legally binding."

It's no surprise Meeks and others in the legislature are on board with the governor. Here's the item, which appears on the Legislative Council's supplemental agenda for this afternoon:
1. Interim Resolution 2015-006, by Representative Stephen Meeks and others, that the Legislative Council supports the statements made by Governor Hutchinson and Attorney General Rutledge and encourages local school districts and institutions of higher education to disregard the guidance issued by the United States Department of Justice and United States Department of Education on May 13, 2016.
UPDATE: The Legislative Council approved the resolution on a voice vote.

Not so coincidentally, the Democratic minority leader in the Arkansas House of Representatives, Rep. Michael John Gray of Augusta, issued a statement this morning slamming Republicans for giving insufficient attention to issues such as pre-K and child hunger while simultaneously "grabbing headlines and promoting fear." Gray didn't mention the transgender bathroom issue specifically, but the timing of his statement makes it easy to interpret.

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. – Representative Michael John Gray, District 47, released the following statement:

“While Republicans are busy playing Washington, D.C. style politics, one in four Arkansas children goes to bed hungry, funds for pre–K and early childhood education are being used to satisfy special interest groups, and developmentally disabled children continue to languish on waitlists.

House Democrats will not be distracted by gotcha politics while Arkansas’s children continue to be ignored. We know that protecting children requires much more than grabbing headlines and promoting fear. There are sensitive issues being discussed in today’s world and it will take some time for everyone to fully understand them.

Heated rhetoric and discrimination have never solved any issue.”
Later, Vince Insalaco, chair of the Arkansas Democratic Party, got in on the action:

“Instead of focusing on issues that impact children’s safety and wellbeing, the GOP is solely focused on gotcha politics. Arkansas is ranked 44th in child wellbeing. Right now 184,000 children in Arkansas are living in poverty. That means one in four of our neighbors’ children is going to bed hungry.”

“We challenge the Republican majority to consider how many Arkansas children are impacted by hunger. We challenge the Republican majority to consider the number of Arkansas children whose lives would be changed by early childhood education. We challenge Republican majority to consider the thousands of children in foster care who are waiting for new, loving homes.”

“I am dumbfounded by the Republican effort to grab headlines while offering no tangible solutions to real problems facing children in Arkansas.”
And, though it's just a letter to other legislators from a constituent, I like the more straightforward vigor with which Dennis Young of Texarkana, a former legislator, expressed himself on current Republican obsession with bathrooms:

Passing a Resolution to disregard GUIDANCE from the Feds is Bullshit. Are we going to start passing Resolutions every time we disagree with the opinions of others ?? If so, you need to stay in Session year round because we all have some disagreement with various things that occur in our daily lives because of the Federal Government, State Government, County Government, and City Government. Please, do not bring any more unneeded attention to our State as the State of North Carolina has done. School Districts in our State ALREADY handle this issue without the intervention from any Governmental organization. Even the newly named Superintendent for the LRSD (by way of Bentonville and by appointment from the head of the State Department of Education who was appointed by our Governor) has even said that local school Districts can handle this issue internally !! Leave it alone and take care of the REAL problems faced by our State. The sky is not falling as some would leave us to believe.

Dennis Young

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