PINE BELT (WDAM) - A Pine Belt member of the Mississippi Board of Education explained the board's decision to ignore the Obama administration's guidance to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity.
"(It's) something that didn't only offend people in Mississippi, but offends people nationwide," said William Harold "Bill" Jones, who's been a state board member for nearly a decade. "It's idiotic, and it wasn't going to work. It's not going to work, and what you saw is the uproar about it. And the state board of education just said 'we're not going to do that.' We weren't going to allow that. It literally would allow a teenage boy, if he could convince his parents that he wanted to be a girl, to say 'I'm a girl' and then go use the locker room and the restroom facilities of females."
Jones said there are only a handful of transgender students in the state's school system and said individual schools are already working with them adequately.
"The hoopla is really over students that don't exist, and of the ones that do exist, they're being dealt with in their respective school districts accordingly," he said.
Gov. Phil Bryant praised the board's decision.
Jones said the board is not being discriminatory toward transgender students by not following the guidelines.
"Schools want to educate children. They don't really want to discriminate against children or hold any particular child back," he said. "This issue is one that's taken a lot of time and energy away from algebra and geometry and things like that. Schools are in the business of educating children, not solving every single social problem."
Jones said there are no legal ramifications for the state not following the guidance right now because it is just a directive, not a law. He said if a complaint was filed with U.S. Department of Justice, the state's federal Title IX funding.
"(With) Title IX, schools are obligated and have the mission to educate all students, no matter what their gender identifications or problems are," he said. "It's just a new area. We receive about $800 million a year from the federal government under Title IX, and yeah, we can't afford to lose that. So we're going to comply with the federal guidelines, but we're not going to comply with the absurdities of the federal government and the guidance letter."