HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Will the state of Texas really refuse ten billion dollars in federal funding rather than allow transgender students to use the restroom of their choice? Texas Senator Rodney Ellis organized a news conference on Monday saying he was embarrassed to hear Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick say the federal government can keep its ten billion dollars for public school funding.
Lt. Gov. Patrick says Texas will not be forced to allow transgender students to use the restroom of their choice. State Sen. Ellis is coming together with a group of political and community leaders to explain how they believe students will lose big if this happens.
On Friday, the U.S. Attorney General and Department of Education directed public schools to give transgender students access to activities, restrooms, locker rooms and dormitories, based on the gender they identify with or face having federal funding taken away.
“By threatening to send back $10 billion as they use our students at political piñatas is disgraceful,” says president of the Houston Federation of Teachers Zeph Capo.
“We can't afford to walk away from ten billion dollars in federal funding," explains State Sen. Ellis. "That helps to educate and feed our state's most vulnerable kids. After all, this is funding that primarily goes to assist low income children and kids with special needs.”
“It does not make any sense to me that the Lieutenant Governor is willing to send back $10 billion because he doesn't like kids who are born into the wrong body,” adds Houston Independent School District Trustee Jolanda Jones.
“On one hand, we spend $9,000 per capita per kid per year (for education) but $18,000 per capita to incarcerate youthful offenders," adds Texas State Representative Borris Miles. "That's got to change.”
”Our Lieutenant Governor is acting as a state's bully in chief," says Texas State Representative Gene Wu. "He is threatening the safety and well-being of our LBGT children, our students and treating them as if there is something wrong with them.”
“Transgender students are more likely to be bullied, to be homeless, to drop out of school and even commit suicide because they are misunderstood," explains HISD Trustee Anna Eastman. "They don't want to hurt others. They just want the same assumption and safety that most of us already have.”
“If our public schools are not adequately financed, that means we're not going to be able to produce the kind of workforce that every business person in Texas says we need,” says Houston NAACP president Dr. James Douglas.
The group says Texas especially needs the funding since, also on Friday, the Texas Supreme Court released a long-awaited decision deeming the state school finance "Robin Hood" system constitutional. 600 school districts had been fighting for a change since 2011. Under the system, HISD will lose $160 million dollars to be redistributed to "property poor" districts.