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On Wednesday, President Trump issued a warning to states that are considering not reopening schools. “In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS,” Trump tweeted. “The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!”
The outrage mob predictably took the bait. The media ran articles insisting Trump has no authority to cut funding. Democrats ran to microphones claiming Trump doesn’t have the authority to do that. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, for example, said “school reopenings are a state decision. Period. That is the law, and that is the way we’re going to proceed. It’s not up to the president of the United States.”
But Democrats like Cuomo didn’t have any objection the last time a president threatened to withhold federal funding from schools four years ago.
In May of 2016, the Obama administration declared that the Departments of Justice and Education would both “treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX,” and issued a directive to all public school districts in the country to allow students to use the bathrooms matching their “gender identity.”
So, if you are a boy, and you wanted to use the girls’ bathroom, the school had to let you or risk losing Title IX funding. If you were a boy and wanted to get a peek at girls changing in the girls’ locker room, you could claim to identify as a girl and the school would have to oblige or risk losing their Title IX funding. If you were a mediocre player on the boys’ sports team, you could identify as a girl and get to play on their team, and potentially crush the competition, and thanks to Barack Obama, the school not wanting to risk losing their Title IX funding, would have to oblige. The New York Times noted that the Obama administration directive “does not have the force of law, but it contains an implicit threat: Schools that do not abide by the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law could face lawsuits or a loss of federal aid.”
From the get-go, this was a gross overreach. Title IX only makes reference to biological sex, not “gender identity” or “gender expression;” ergo, Obama’s decree amounted to rewriting Title IX without Congress approval. Obama intentionally treated sex and “gender identity” as the same thing in order to redefine a decades-old law when it suited his needs.
“In order to ‘change the law,’ the Obama administration simply pretends that a 1972 act of Congress means whatever the latest progressive fashion trend requires it to mean—even though not a single member of Congress in 1972 would have supported the new ‘interpretation,’ much less voted for a law expressly stating what the Obama administration now claims the law says,” explained Mario Loyola, a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Law.
Obama defended his directive by stating, “I think that it is part of our obligation as a society to make sure that everybody is treated fairly, and our kids are all loved, and that they’re protected and that their dignity is affirmed.” The dignity and privacy of young girls who didn’t want to share bathrooms and changing facilities with boys, however, wasn’t relevant. The fairness for girls who spent years training and competing against other girls suddenly competing against biological boys with physical advantages over them was also not relevant.
But Andrew Cuomo had no problem with Obama’s overreach. He didn’t challenge his authority. In fact, when President Trump rescinded Obama’s federal directive, Cuomo attacked Trump. Other Democrats have similarly argued that Trump doesn’t have the authority to cut school funding, even though they raised no objection to Obama threatening to do the same thing.
“Decisions about school and how to have it, onsite or otherwise, will remain with the state of Washington,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee of Trump’s threat to withhold funding. But, when Obama threatened to withhold funding from schools in order to force them to let boys in girls’ bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams, Inslee praised him. “I applaud the Obama administration for establishing policies that will better provide all our children an opportunity to thrive,” he said at the time.
Roughly 90 percent of a school’s funding comes from state and local government, and if schools are not going to reopen then Trump has better standing to withhold federal dollars from schools than Obama did. Withholding federal dollars from schools that are choosing not to open and redirecting them to parents to use towards their kids’ education makes more sense than withholding federal dollars so teenage boys can use girls’ locker rooms.