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Tennessee Lawmakers Ask Attorney General To Downplay Federal Guidance On Transgender Students

Stephen Jerkins

Hear the radio version of this story.

Tennessee lawmakers are keeping up pressure against the Obama administration's latest policy statement on transgender students.

More than 30 Republican legislators are asking the state's top lawyer to tell school districts in writing that the administration's guidance is not binding. Lawmakers say in a letter to Attorney General Herbert Slatery that federal authorities are "bullying" districts with the threat of withholding federal funds.

They want Slatery to tell districts they don't have to go along, and they want him to join North Carolina, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Texas in a lawsuit challenging the administration's authority over the issue.

Officials from the U.S. Justice and Education departments told districts last week that they could violate federal laws banning sex discrimination if they don't accommodate transgender students.

Republican lawmakers, who recently debated requiring transgender students use the facilities of their birth sex, say they're incredulous about the administration's guidance. "Our children’s future must not be held hostage by an overreaching federal government," they wrote in the letter to Slatery.

President Obama has defended issuing the policy statement, telling Buzzfeed News this week that schools had been asking the Dept. of Education for guidance.

Copyright 2016 WPLN News

Chas joined WPLN in 2015 after eight years with The Tennessean, including more than five years as the newspaper's statehouse reporter.Chas has also covered communities, politics and business in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. Chas grew up in South Carolina and attended Columbia University in New York, where he studied economics and journalism. Outside of work, he's a dedicated distance runner, having completed a dozen marathons