Oklahoma legislators fired another volley in the ongoing bathroom wars, introducing legislation that would require "separate but equal bathrooms" and call for President Barack Obama's impeachment over the issue.
The state's Republican-dominated legislature unveiled two proposals on May 19, Reuters reports. The first would accommodate students who do not want to share bathrooms with members of the opposite gender or transgender people. Invoking language reminiscent of the civil rights era, the law would require separate but equal bathroom facilities in schools.
The proposed law comes in response to the president's new federal guidelines, which require public schools to allow transgender students to use bathroom and locker facilities that correspond to their chosen gender identity. To deny transgender students the use of their preferred facilities would violate the Title IX anti-discrimination law, the administration said, which means the federal government could withhold education funds from school districts that defy the president's directive, USA Today notes.
Republican State Rep. John Bennett called Obama's decree "biblically wrong," according to Reuters, joining a growing chorus of critics who say the federal government is overreaching by imposing its will on state and local governments.
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A second piece of legislation introduced by Oklahoma lawmakers calls for the president's impeachment over the issue. Oklahoma's representatives join other state and local officials in rebuffing the president's directive. In Pennsylvania, almost 100 legislators signed a letter asking the president to rescind the order, while education officials in Mississippi said they will not follow the federal order, according to the Daily Caller.
Arizona's top education official, Diane Douglas, also signaled her state's opposition, characterizing Obama's decree as "yet another example of federal overreach negatively impacting our state’s schools."
Her comments were echoed by Andy Biggs, the Republican leader of Arizona's state senate, according to the education news site EAGNews.
"Not only does this directive run afoul of the Tenth Amendment, but it has no place in the value system that we seek to instill in our children from their earliest age," Biggs wrote in a statement. "The rules and norms of modern society may change, but biology will not – nor do the Constitutional rights of states."
Some officials in Oklahoma said the state shouldn't be fighting the federal government on the bathroom issue. Troy Stevenson, director of the LGBT advocacy group Freedom Oklahoma, is among those who said they support the president's efforts, according to Reuters.
"In a time when our state is facing an unprecedented economic crisis," Stevenson wrote in a statement, "our lawmakers should be focused on righting the ship rather than stigmatizing transgender youth."