Archive for Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Kansas House speaker decries federal rules on transgender bathrooms

House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, called the House to order Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, officially starting the 2016 legislative session.

House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, called the House to order Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, officially starting the 2016 legislative session.

May 25, 2016

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TOPEKA — Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, began circulating a letter this week in hopes of getting other lawmakers to join him in protesting recent federal guidelines directing public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and engage in other activities that correspond to their gender identity.

The letter, which is addressed to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Education Secretary John King, calls those guidelines an example of "federal overreach" that infringes on states' rights under the 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"We will not stand by while Kansas children are used as pawns in a social engineering experiment," the letter states. "We encourage and support Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt in using all legal means to defend the state in this matter." The action comes at a time 11 other states are suing the Obama administration over its directive.

Merrick's letter states further that the federal policy directs Kansas and other states "to forsake fairness, compassion and privacy for a vast majority of students in favor of social experimentation that carries huge safety risks."

It wasn't immediately clear Wednesday how many other lawmakers had signed on to Merrick's letter.

On May 13, the Justice and Education departments issued a joint letter to school districts around the country, advising them that under federal Title IX regulations, "a school must treat students consistent with their gender identity even if their education records or identification documents indicate a different sex."

Specifically regarding restrooms and locker rooms, the agencies said, "A school may provide separate facilities on the basis of sex but must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity."

That letter sparked a firestorm of controversy nationwide. Last week, the Kansas State Board of Education debated whether to adopt a formal statement opposing that policy.

Board member Ken Willard, a Hutchinson Republican, said accepting such a federal policy "could be the veritable straw that broke the camel’s back and result in the destruction of traditional American public schools.”

On a 6-4 vote, the Board decided to postpone any action until its next monthly meeting in June.

Meanwhile, some conservative state lawmakers have said they hope to pass a resolution condemning the policy next week, when the House and Senate reconvene for the formal "sine die" ceremony to close the 2016 legislative session.

Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, which advocates for LGBT rights, said he believes Merrick's concerns about the safety of school children are misplaced.

"If he were really concerned, he wouldn’t single out one group of school children for bullying and intimidation," Witt said.

He also scoffed at the proposed resolution that may be considered in the House.

"They didn't have time to pass a constitutionally-required balanced budget, but they’ve found the time to beat up on little school kids," he said. "They should find the time to pick on somebody their own size."

Comments

Phillip Chappuie 1 year, 2 months ago

I decry the manner in which Merrick conducted the business of the House is his mission to advance the extremist right wing agenda to ruin so many aspects of state sponsored services. Bathrooms is nothing more than the straw man of the day. Ray Merrick is merely deflecting from his complete failure in serving Kansas.

Richard Neuschafer 1 year, 2 months ago

Who cares what Merrick thinks. He's not running for re-election and he's nuts!

Brad Greenwood 1 year, 2 months ago

Yeah, don't you just hate it when the government tries these crazy "experiments" on the people and then, even when they fail miserably, the governor... whoops, I meant government,... refuses to make any changes in the "experiment" whatsoever. That being said... back off Merrick! You and your phobic phriends don't know what the ph%$# you're talking about.

Armen Kurdian 1 year, 2 months ago

OK, tell you what. Next time your little girl is in the bathroom, me and 10 other of my buddies who feel like women on that day will come in and take a leak w/her. How about that? Use the damn family bathroom if you're that concerned.

This is so mind-bogglingly asinine, this MATTERS to a LOT of people to restrict OUR civil rights to accommodate someone else's SUPPOSED civil rights.

Rick Masters 1 year, 2 months ago

Wow, you have 10 other buddies who feel like women too? You're more open minded than I originally assumed.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 2 months ago

I kind of suspected you were a pervert Armen. I could care less if you come in to use the bathroom. You will be in the next stall. I won't even notice, because I don't peek into stalls. If you peek into my stall, be forewarned. I will pepper spray perverts who do that. And I will have you arrested. First of all, women's bathrooms have private stalls. We don't do the communal peeing that men do. i always thought that was strange. Do you compare size? Have distance contests? Second, I don't need you and your macho friends to defend me. I can take care of myself, thank you very much.

Bob Forer 1 year, 2 months ago

He sounds like a guy who is to fearful of size comparison. My guess is that he implements the full lean method so no one can peek at him.

Barb Gordon 1 year, 2 months ago

That seems like a silly plan. You'd have to wait for a really long time to use one of the stalls with so many of your fellow transvestites with you. I'm not sure how it would be restricting your civil rights, though. Did I miss the part where we were guaranteed the right to restrict access to public bathrooms to only "our kind?" I thought that notion went out in the 60s.

Bob Forer 1 year, 2 months ago

There is professional help available for those with groundless fear.

1 year, 2 months ago

I didn't know we had White Walkers in the Legislature.

Marc Wilborn 1 year, 2 months ago

The country has lost all of its common sense.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 2 months ago

Oh will, there's a surprise. And closed minding bigot is being a bigot? Who'd a thunk.

Calvin Anders 1 year, 2 months ago

And the award for the misapplication of arcane political terms (social engineering) in the name of fear mongering goes to Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick. Merrick is trying to call up images of Soviet and Nazi efforts to use relentless propaganda to mold public opinion. That sounds more like the radical right agenda on this particular issue. The Republicans are the ones who are out stirring up the public with stories of hypothetical monstrous dress wearing bearded predators stalking our young daughters in bathrooms. The social engineering that has been going on in this country is primarily the wealthy trying to divert attention from their money grab by getting us to fight about idiotic fabricated issues like where people get to pee. I'm not saying this is an unimportant issue for transgender community, but it was a non issue before Republicans created it. At it's core this is about scapegoating, vilifying and marginalizing a minority group as a distraction. It's about promoting bigotry to avoid scrutiny.

Carmalee Winebrinner 1 year, 2 months ago

This entire issue of who takes a pee where was created because the Republican machine across the US was being so uncharitable, so uncaring, so unChristian (cuts in food stamps, cuts in school lunch programs, cuts in school funding, refusal to accept Medicaid funding resulting in working poor being unable to obtain insurance and thus, health care-the list goes on and on and on) that it was in danger of losing its grip on the religious right.

Even staunch abortion opponents were beginning to notice just how they were acting, and not in a good way.

So, a new hysteria had to be invented to ensure the Republican machine would have their right wing votes blindly locked in once again. Thus the Bathroom Police were invented.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 2 months ago

Hit the nail on directly on the head, Carmalee.

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