A GOP state legislator said he doesn’t have an issue over the expansion of transgender bathroom use, but rather what he sees as the president’s directive on the issue violating states’ rights.
State Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, told reporters Thursday he has sent a letter to Gov. Nikki Haley and South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson asking them to join 11 other states that are suing the federal government over the directive as an illegal mandate from the president.
“Where it is an issue is when it becomes an overreach on other issues of state’s rights,” Pitts said Thursday. “That’s a direct assault on the sovereignty of the state in the ability of state legislatures to govern themselves.”
The US Education Department last month issued guidance telling school districts to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms in public schools that match their gender identity, rather than their birth. While not technically having the force of law, the Education Department does have the power to withhold federal funds from districts that do not comply.
Pitts said it is an issue that the president has made up. “He creates the issue of transgender, but the real issue is the assault on the sovereignty of the state.”. He said he is confident that the transgender bathroom issue will be worked out by the local school districts.
South Carolina senators have taken up two different measures that would block school districts from allowing students to use the bathroom separate from their birth sex. A bill that would have applied the ban statewide failed to get enough votes to clear a Senate committee, while a second only applying to Berkeley County was blocked on the Senate floor.