Gov. Nathan Deal twice defended a lawsuit in which Georgia and 10 other states sued to block new guidelines concerning transgender students and restrooms, calling the legal maneuver an "appropriate" response to "federal overreach."
“We thought that this was an appropriate time to challenge that authority. Nothing has officially happened in terms of withholding funds, but the threat was made that it could happen,” said Deal, who said he consulted with Attorney General Sam Olens before the lawsuit was filed. He added: “It’s important enough for us to not allow an arbitrary overreach by the president to take away or jeopardize that constant funding.”
On Tuesday, Deal again backed the lawsuit. Via WABE:
“Because of the seriousness of withholding federal funding if we did not comply, I thought it was appropriate for us to be involved in challenging that directive,” Deal said. “It gives directives down to the individual school system. We thought that was an executive overreach, and this is an appropriate venue in which we'll let the federal courts decide if we're correct or not."
Deal, unlike some other Georgia Republicans, has taken a measured tone in responding to the new federal guidelines. He's criticized them as an overreach but his remarks have been absent of the heated – and transphobic – arguments of other opponents of the guidelines. That's included parents in Fannin County, a cranky guy in Gwinnett, Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods, state Sen. Josh McKoon and several lawmakers who called for Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens to sue to block the guidelines.
Deal and Olens initially resisted calls for the lawsuit, but quickly changed their approach and joined the suit that's the work of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Like Deal, Olens has criticized the guidelines but avoided incendiary rhetoric in opposing them.
But the lawsuit rips the federal guidelines as "radical changes" and "a massive social experiment" that runs "roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights."
Georgia joined 10 other states in the lawsuit – Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
On May 13, the Obama administration issued a sweeping directive to public school districts across the country mandating that they allow transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity. The measure is not law but school districts that don't follow it could face lawsuits or the loss of federal funds. The guidelines also call for schools to provide access to all programs to transgender students, refer to them by their chosen names and pronouns, put in place safeguards to keep their gender identity private and respond to reports of harassment.