CNN's Banfield in Heated Debate w/ GOP Guest on Obama & Transgender Bathrooms

As Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick appeared as a guest on Friday's Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield to discuss his state's resistance to the Obama administration's directive on transgender bathroom access in public schools, he and host Banfield got into a contentious debate on the issue in which the CNN host gave credence to people of one gender claiming to be of the opposite gender.

After the Texas Republican spent his first couple of minutes making the case against the Obama administration and complaining about the threat to remove federal funding for school lunches, Banfield followed up by raising a hypothetical case of a biological girl who behaves as and even appears outwardly to be a boy possibly being forced to go into a girls' bathroom. Banfield:

There's a strange irony in all of this, Lieutenant Governor, and I'm not sure how you're going to answer this next question. You're saying that -- and I understand it -- some parents are very concerned about boys being in the girls' room and the girls being in the boys' room, etc., so in the circumstance where a person who is born with a female anatomy, and all that person's life has identified as a male -- dresses as a male, acts as a male, looks exactly to anyone as a male, feels as a male, behaves as a male -- you're saying that that person should be in the girls' bathroom?

As Lieutenant Governor Patrick began his response, Banfield was quick to jump in and interrupt him, believing he was not answering her question, as she demanded:

No, no, I just want your feeling about that issue! I heard what you said, and you made your case very strongly, Lieutenant Governor. I'm asking you about that circumstance because, what you are saying is that if your state has its way I'm asking you the question, I'd like you to answer, and it's the one that I just posed to you. What would you say about that circumstance -- that circumstance?

In his response, Patrick recalled that individual schools already "make accommodation" for students with various types of special circumstances, and complained that "The President telling families you will, if a student says he's transgender, or she says she's transgender, shower with each other, go to each other's bathrooms-"

As if to correct him, Banfield jumped in again: "No, no. As I understand, the President also said you can make accommodations for those who feel otherwise."

As Patrick was referring to schools already offering special accommodations for the small number of transgender students, while Banfield was referring to Obama allowing special accommodations for the larger number of non-transgender students who would be made uncomfortable by the opposite gender being allowed to enter their bathrooms, the two argued back and forth on the issue of whether the Obama directive would allow schools to make special "accommodations" to solve the issue:

BANFIELD: No, no. As I understand, the President also said you can make accommodations for those who-

PATRICK: No, no he doesn't, Ashleigh. No.

BANFIELD: -feel otherwise -- no, I read it. I actually read the letter.

PATRICK: No, you need to read his guidelines.

BANFIELD: I did. I read it. (inaudible). That the accommodations are perfectly allowable.

The back and forth continued:

PATRICK: No, Ashleigh, did you read where he said that schools cannot create a separate bathroom for students? If you don't create a separate bathroom for every student, you cannot-

BANFIELD: You can't force the transgender student-

PATRICK: -create a bathroom -- that's what he said.

BANFIELD: -to go to the separate bathroom, but if someone else chooses to use a separate bathroom, that accommodation, the President says, is allowed under these circumstances, and the effort here, the President says and this administration says is so that those transgender students aren't separated out and treated as unequal. I thought it was pretty clear.

The Texas Republican reiterated that accommodations some schools already use would be banned by the Obama administration:

No, no, Ashleigh, I think you just made my point. He says, unless you make separate bathrooms for everyone, you can't do it for a transgender student. So the transgender student must be able to go to the bathroom of the sex they think they are.

Moments later, as Patrick argued that Title IX would not apply to transgenders, Banfield seemed to bristle when he referred to the sex people might think they are as the CNN host felt the need to jump in again to argue that the issue is up for "interpretation":

PATRICK: By the way, this is never going to survive in the courts. And this is what it's about, because they're basing this, Ashleigh, on Title IX, which was a very good law passed in '72. I raised a son and daughter. I was glad my daughter had every opportunity to play sports as my son did. But it was not about discriminating against race, color, religion, and sex. The sex that you are, not the sex that you think you are.

BANFIELD: Ahhh! Well, that's up for interpretation.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, May 13, Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield on CNN:

11:40 a.m. ET
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD: Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, live with me now from Dallas. Sir, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us on this very, very important issue. And this is going to be precedent-setting, so I'm glad you're here. Your attorney general in your state, Ken Paxton, has just issued a statement saying that President Obama better -- this is a quote -- "better prepare for yet another legal fight." What's it going to look like? What will the fight be?

[LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR DAN PATRICK (R-TX)]

BANFIELD: I understand what you're saying, and the middle ground is I think where everybody wants to try to end up at some point. There's a strange irony in all of this, Lieutenant Governor, and I'm not sure how you're going to answer this next question. You're saying that -- and I understand it -- some parents are very concerned about boys being in the girls' room and the girls being in the boys' room, etc., so in the circumstance where a person who is born with a female anatomy, and all that person's life has identified as a male -- dresses as a male, acts as a male, looks exactly to anyone as a male, feels as a male, behaves as a male -- you're saying that that person should be in the girls' bathroom?

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR DAN PATRICK (R-TX): Look, here's what I'm saying, Ashleigh, is this President is interfering where he knows nothing that he's talking about-

BANFIELD: No, no, I just want your feeling about that issue! I heard what you said, and you made your case very strongly, Lieutenant Governor. I'm asking you about that circumstance because, what you are saying is that if your state has its way-

PATRICK: Ashleigh, I can't answer if you're talking.

BANFIELD: -I'm asking you the question, I'd like you to answer, and it's the one that I just posed to you. What would you say about that circumstance -- that circumstance?

PATRICK: You're asking me again. Let me answer you. We have all types of circumstances in public schools in America. We have six million children in school in Texas, and schools deal with individual students on an everyday basis and making accommodations, all types of students. Schools can deal with students. For example, many schools already deal with any issue of any type of transgender student by giving them a separate bathroom facility. But the President in his guidelines says that's not good enough. He says this student must be able to shower with a student of another sex, must be able to share the bathrooms. So he's taking away the ability of the school board, the parents, and the school district to handle this.

You're giving one example. There are thousands of examples in a country with millions and millions of school children that come to school every day, and schools make accommodation. I've been working with students with severe disabilities for 30 years in schools. I've served on education for eight years. I'm familiar with all kinds of issues. Schools can figure it out. The President telling families you will, if a student says he's transgender, or she says she's transgender, shower with each other, go to each other's bathrooms-

BANFIELD: No, no.

PATRICK: -it's just not going to stand up.

BANFIELD: As I understand, the President also said you can make accommodations for those who-

PATRICK: No, no he doesn't, Ashleigh. No.

BANFIELD: -feel otherwise -- no, I read it. I actually read the letter.

PATRICK: No, you need to read his guidelines.

BANFIELD: I did. I read it. (inaudible) .

PATRICK: Well, what he said, what he said, Ashleigh,

BANFIELD: That the accommodations are perfectly allowable.

PATRICK: No, Ashleigh, did you read where he said that schools cannot create a separate bathroom for students? If you don't create a separate bathroom for every student, you cannot-

BANFIELD: You can't force the transgender student-

PATRICK: -create a bathroom -- that's what he said.

BANFIELD: -to go to the separate bathroom, but if someone else chooses to use a separate bathroom, that accommodation, the President says, is allowed under these circumstances, and the effort here, the President says and this administration says is so that those transgender students aren't separated out and treated as unequal. I thought it was pretty clear.

PATRICK: No, no, Ashleigh, I think you just made my point. He says, unless you make separate bathrooms for everyone, you can't do it for a transgender student. So the transgender student must be able to go to the bathroom of the sex they think they are. By the way, this is never going to survive in the courts. And this is what it's about, because they're basing this, Ashleigh, on Title IX, which was a very good law passed in '72. I raised a son and daughter. I was glad my daughter had every opportunity to play sports as my son did. But it was not about discriminating against race, color, religion, and sex. The sex that you are, not the sex that you think you are.

BANFIELD: Ahhh! Well, that's up for interpretation.

PATRICK: That's how they're interpreting this law.

BANFIELD: Now, that's where the issue is. And so, sir, I applaud you for stating your case-

PATRICK: Well, look, you don't interpret law, you follow law. You follow law. You don't interpret law.

BANFIELD: Very much so, of course you interpret law, without question. And I think that's where this issue is going to end up, so.

PATRICK: And they will lose in the courts. But, more than that, Ashleigh-

BANFIELD: Possibly and possibly not.

PATRICK: -the families of America are not going to accept it. Ashleigh, they will lose in the courts.

BANFIELD: Sir, I so appreciate you coming on the show, and I hope you'll come on again as we continue through the process, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, thanks so much.

PATRICK: I'm happy to. Thank you.

Education Sexuality Transgender CNN Other CNN Video Ashleigh Banfield Barack Obama


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