August 17, 2023

Arizona schools chief targets transgender students and bathrooms

In a Thursday press release, Tom Horne said parents are expressing concerns over allowing transgender students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

Trans Pride Flag Transgender pride flags filled a Catalina Foothills School District Governing Board meeting on Tuesday, April 11, 2023.
Paola Rodriguez/Arizona Public Media

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne is targeting school policies dealing with restrooms and transgender students.

In a press release, the Arizona Department of Education claims that parents have been contacting them, stating that they are upset that some schools are allowing transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity.

“I have been contacted by a number of parents who are outraged by the idea that biological boys can use restrooms, locker rooms, and shower facilities meant for girls, and they are considering removing their daughters from schools that allow this,” Horne said in the press release. “In Arizona, they certainly have multiple school options from which to choose.”

Horne says that schools should not be initiating policies that would allow that. However, according to the department, some schools are citing federal nondiscrimination laws like Title IX as a basis for their direction. He disagrees.

“Under the current Title IX, there is no language that compels schools to permit biological boys to use girls’ bathrooms, locker rooms or shower areas. The Biden administration has proposed changes to Title IX that might allow for this, but this proposal has no force of law until it is ruled on by the courts, which has not occurred.”

He went on to say that state law prohibits transgender girls from competing on girls' sports teams, which carries the same legal argument.

"Biological boys who expose themselves to girls could be violating indecent exposure laws and subject to arrest. Schools can provide separate facilities – even small ones that are open to either gender - that meet the needs of transgender students without compromising the dignity of others."

However, the Save Women's Sports Act is on hold after a federal judge placed an injunction on it, saying that it violates federal nondiscrimination laws. That case will not be heard until later this year.

"The issue will ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court. I am defending the state law that prohibits biological boys from participating in girls’ sports and the basic legal argument for that action is similar to the one that addresses the use of bathrooms, locker rooms, and shower areas.”

Arizona’s Senate Democrats are calling this move “fear-mongering.”

“This behavior will lead to further dangerous retaliation against public schools,” the group tweeted.

By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
AZPM is a service of the University of Arizona and our broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents who hold the trademarks for Arizona Public Media and AZPM. We respectfully acknowledge the University of Arizona is on the land and territories of Indigenous peoples.
The University of Arizona