While it may be impossible to predict the future, it's a pretty safe bet that any time President Obama issues a broad directive regarding something as (unfortunately) divisive as, oh, say, transgender rights, conservatives around the nation will probably go varying degrees of berserk.
As it happens, that's exactly what took place this week after the White House sent a "letter of guidance" to public schools around the country, instructing them to allow transgender students to use whichever restroom aligns with their gender identity. That letter, while not legally binding—it suggests instead the possibility of a school losing federal funds should it not comply—was enough to send some on the righthand side of the political spectrum into a transphobic tizzy.
Much of the most heated rhetoric came from (surprise!) Texas. In the Lone Star State, where the debate over transgender bathroom rights is threatening to spill into the legislative arena, Governor Greg Abbott compared Obama to a monarch, declaring that "Obama can't rewrite the Civil Rights Act. He's not a King."
Abbott's Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, meanwhile, declared that the initiative represents nothing less than "the end of public education."
"[President Obama] says he's going to withhold funding if schools do not follow the policy," Patrick told reporters on Friday. "Well, in Texas, he can keep his 30 pieces of silver. We will not yield to blackmail from the president of the United States."
The federal funding represents billions of dollars for Texas alone, much of which would go to a program that provides free lunch to students in need.
Just days earlier, Patrick had publicly called for the resignation of Fort Worth school superintendent Kent Scribner, over Schribner's implementation of a 2011 set of guidelines around bathroom access for transgender students.
Of course, Texas wasn't the only place where conservative voices rang out in loud opposition to the President's call for common decency and human rights.
Tennessee Congresswoman Diane Black described the letter as having "nothing to do with compassion for minority student populations and everything to do with political opportunism for the next election." She added that she believes "the Obama Administration is now directly responsible for endangering our students"—an apparent reference to the thoroughly debunked belief that allowing transgender individuals to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity leads to sexual assault and violence.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange offered his own criticism of the initiative, telling WHNT19:
"The Obama Administration’s new guidance document is just one more example of the kind of federal overreach that we have come to expect from this White House. School bathroom use is an issue that should be decided by parents, teachers, and principals—not federal bureaucrats."
"The DOJ guidance document is also wrong on the law," added Strange. "Title IX allows schools to have separate facilities for separate sexes. The law says ‘sex,’ not gender identity. If the Obama Administration tries to enforce this absurd edict, I will work with other Attorneys General to challenge it."
And opposition isn't limited to politicians, either. A number of school officials have themselves taken the opportunity to slam the Presidential initiative, as well. Among them are Union County College Corner Joint School District superintendent Dr. Zak Roselle, a man whose official photo on the UCCCJSD website is that of novelty meme-turned-islamophobe Chuck Norris.
Speaking with Indiana station Fox59, Rozelle, who is not Chuck Norris, declared:
“[The letter is] another example of government / politicians using the public schools to promote their own political agenda – little to no regard for the real impact on the right to privacy / security for all children."
But it's Rodney Cavness who may have claim to the title of "Most over the top response" after the Port Neches-Groves superintendent told a local Texas news station:
"I got news for President Barack Obama. He ain't my President and he can't tell me what to do. That letter (to be released to all public schools tomorrow) is going straight to the paper shredder. I have 5 daughters myself and I have 2,500 girls in my protection. Their moms and dads expect me to protect them. And that is what I am going to do. Now I don't want them bullied… but there are accommodations that can be made short of this. He (President Obama) is destroying the very fiber of this country. He is not a leader. He is a failure."
Sorry, Rodney. Tell that to the Transgender students who just want to use the right bathroom without government interference.