By Rep. Pete Olson
Our Texas State Legislature has spent a considerable amount of time this year debating a bill about school bathroom access.
Why has the State of Texas felt the need to address this issue? Because the Obama Administration chose to bypass Congress to set social policy, by specifically changing the definition of “sex” in federal civil rights law to include “gender identity.” By doing so, President Obama unilaterally rewrote a law without an act of Congress, which violates the Constitution.
This unlawful action allowed Obama’s Departments of Education and Justice, to jointly declare that they would treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex when enforcing Title IX. The guidance directed schools receiving federal funds to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and team facilities that correspond with their self-declared gender identity, rather than their biological sex defined on their birth certificate. Hence the reason that Texas and other states were forced to deal with this issue.
First and foremost, the 10th Amendment is very clear – issues such as these should be left to states and localities to make. Washington bureaucrats have no business forcing their views on individual communities. What works for one state or county may not work for another. A one-size-fits-all approach was rejected by our founding fathers. It is always the wrong approach.
However, changing this definition in federal law rightly requires congressional action, not unilateral executive action. President Trump has taken needed steps to reverse this overreach by rescinding the Obama directive, as well as many other unconstitutional actions taken by the previous administration. Despite this, it is possible for a future president to try and reverse it. That’s why I introduced H.R. 2796, the Civil Rights Uniformity Act. This bill will ensure that gender identity is not treated as a protected class in federal law or policy without congressional approval. This legislation will restore the rule of law, the proper separation of power and federalism as designed by our Constitution.
As our state legislators continue to wrestle with a divisive issue that was forced on them by the Obama Administration, I’m working to ensure that the federal government empowers states and localities instead of handing down heavy-handed mandates. The founding fathers never intended unelected bureaucrats in federal agencies to make sweeping changes without the approval of Congress. We must restore the voice of the people given to them by our Constitution and put an end to this dangerous precedent of removing Congress’ power to make laws.
(Editor’s Note: Rep. Pete Olson is a Republican Congressman representing the 22nd District of Texas.)