Seventy Mississippi House Republicans along with six Democrats sent the members of the state Board of Education a letter on Monday demanding that they ignore the Obama administration’s recent school bathroom directive.
“This is an attempt to push an agenda that has the potential to harm our children,” the letter signed by Speaker Philip Gunn explained.
House Democrat Representatives Nick Bain, Angela Cockerham, Deborah Dixon, Michael Evans, Tom Miles, and Preston Sullivan were included in the list of legislators against the federal directive.
Noticeably absent from the list were four House Republicans – Toby Barker, Rob Roberson, Noah Sanford, and Bobby Shows.
However, the choice to not to be listed with their colleagues on the letter signed by Gunn should not be seen as disagreeing on the issue but rather a desire to have their voice heard individually.
“I agree with Speaker Gunn’s letter. However, I generally disfavor signing onto others’ work and chose instead to send my own letter to MDE,” Rep. Noah Sanford (R-HD 90) said on Tuesday. “In addition, I plan to have follow up meetings with them regarding this issue and others that schools in my district are facing.”
Rep. Toby Barker (R-HD 102) concurred.
“It’s just the way I typically do communications, whether with constituents, agencies or social media,” Barker said. “I prefer to write my own stuff when possible.”
Barker’s own letter to the state Board of Education can be read below.
Rep. Rob Roberson (R-HD 43) noted that the issue does not need state or federal attention.
“This is best left to the local level,” Roberson said. “The state and federal governments should not be in these matters. The local school districts should be handling this issue.”
Rep. Bobby Shows (R-HD 89) is ill and unavailable for comment.
On Tuesday, the state Board of Education unanimously voted against implementing the Obama administration’s directive, rejecting it after a lengthy meeting largely in executive session. Although, board members said the decision had nothing to do with pressure from Republican lawmakers.
You can watch the WJTV report and hear comments from Board of Education chairman John Kelly below.