The Kansas Board of Education said it made the unanimous decision to preserve local authorities' flexibility.
The board's decision defies the Obama administration directive, which spurred eleven states to file a lawsuit alleging that the federal government has "conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights."
It also comes at a time when Kansas schools are facing a Supreme Court-ordered shutdown if the legislature can't bridge the funding gap between schools in rich and poor districts. Gov. Sam Brownback called a special session to solve the problem before the June 30 deadline. The special session to prevent a shutdown of Kansas schools is scheduled to begin on June 23, according to the Kansas City Star.
Legislators are eager to get the budget passed, but a partisan struggle may be inevitable. A report that Kansas state Rep. John Whitmer, a Republican, had a bathroom bill in his pocket ready to introduce if Democrats tried to add anything to the school finance bill caused a stir. "If the Dems start trying to muck us up, then I’ll do the same," he told The Kansas City Star.
"I'm extremely frustrated," said Stephanie Mott, executive director of the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project, about Rep. Whitmer's comments. "You're taking young people trying to live authentically and putting them out there like a bargaining chip," she said in a conversation with ABC News. "When they do things like this it puts trans students in danger."
While Mott's organization held a vigil for the Orlando shooting victims, they have no current plans for a formal protest against the school board's decision or Rep. Whitmer's bill.
Transgender community advocates also believe restricting bathroom use to one's sex at birth is a civil rights issue.
"It's a dangerous repetition of lessons we learned in the 1950's," said self-described "trans advocate" Hannah Simpson, 31, a mentor for several young transgender students. "The government can't legislate emotion, but it's charged to protect the civil rights of minorities," she said, "not repeat mistakes that led to that civil rights catastrophe."
Simpson has protested various "bathroom bills" through social media using the hashtag "#safe2peehere," in which she posts photographs of people casually toting catheter bags, a tongue-in-cheek reaction to the difficulty of finding a comfortable restroom. "Doing your business shouldn't be anyone else's business," she tells the young transgender students she mentors.