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Plumbing the Depths of the Bathroom Debate

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The media may disagree on the job Donald Trump’s doing, but the American people sure don’t. By massive margins, they have nothing but praise for the president’s handling of Obama’s transgender mandate. The numbers don’t lie — and when it comes to the privacy and safety of women and children, they aren’t even close. As Rasmussen pointed out Friday, the Left couldn’t be more out of touch with the American people on the gender-free bathroom and shower debate.

By a landslide, the country sides with Trump in who and how the issue should be handled. Only 28 percent agree with Obama that the federal government should dictate those policies to local schools — compared to an overwhelming majority of 64 percent who feel — as Trump does — that schools and local districts should decide. And in case you think Rasmussen is an outlier, check out these new results from the Crux/Marist poll, which show just how out of touch the media is on the issue. By almost 40 points, Americans (66 to 27 percent) don’t think “someone who is transitioning to become the opposite sex” should be allowed to use the shower or locker room of their choice.

On bathrooms, feelings are just as strong. Fifty-six percent have the same opinion on bathrooms (compared to 38 percent who would open the doors to anyone). Why else would President Obama have to issue a mandate? Because he knew he didn’t have one from the American people on a policy as extreme as this one! Instead, he overstepped his bounds, tried to unilaterally rewrite a 1972 law on sex discrimination, and threatened schools’ funding if they didn’t comply. As Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) reminded everyone, “Our fight over the bathroom directive has always been about former President Obama’s attempt to bypass Congress and rewrite the laws to fit his political agenda for radical social change. The Obama administration’s directive on bathrooms unlawfully invaded areas that are left to state discretion under the 10th Amendment. School policy should center on the safety, privacy and dignity of its students, not the whims of federal bureaucrats.”

While the Left keeps up its sky-is-falling mantra, more people are coming to the realization that what President Trump did isn’t nearly as outlandish as liberals would like you to believe. Even in places like the Economist, experts tackle the myth that Trump’s move made it “open season” on transgenderism. Not so, they write. “Mr. Trump’s change of policy is not a wholesale reversal of Mr. Obama’s stance on trans rights… [His] change of policy is actually quite a bit softer both in tone and content, than it might have been.” Not to mention, the authors scold the Left, that this isn’t a question of feelings but the law. “Whatever a president’s spin on civil-rights law may be, the law itself remains the same… [and] it will be up the courts — not the executive branch — to interpret and enforce [it].”

For the 12 states pushing privacy laws, Trump’s decision only provides additional momentum. Despite the Left’s hysteria, this common sense approach is politically appealing. One thing that people on both sides agreed after the election is that these were the values that drove people to the polls. And social conservatives weren’t the only ones motivated to turn out when they realized that Hillary Clinton cared more about bathrooms than basic priorities. “Look, I’m as progressive as anybody, okay?” a local union boss said after the election. “But people in the heartland thought the Democratic Party cared more about where someone else went to the restroom than whether they had a good-paying job,” he complained.

In the meantime, most people have faith that the administration can strike the balance America is hoping for. When asked if they thought the laws had to choose between protecting transgender and religious rights, nearly three-quarters of Americans say that laws can protect both (74 percent to 18 percent). It’s up to Trump to prove it. With the public solidly in his camp, he has even more reason to move forward with an executive order protecting religious liberty. Not only does it go hand and hand with this debate over privacy, but it’s a common sense approach to the hostile climate too many Americans are facing in a post-Obama world.

For more on the White House’s decision, check out Peter Sprigg’s new piece in the Stream, “Trump Returns Authority over School Transgender Policies to States and Localities.”

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