Rick Scott says state ‘clearly reviewing’ transgender bathroom directive

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Gov. Rick Scott said his administration is reviewing a directive to public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms matching their gender identity.

“We’re reviewing this new mandate by the federal government,” said Scott. “We’re going to review it, looking at the safety of the citizens of the state.”

Eleven states are suing the Obama administration over the directive, which calls on U.S. public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. The lawsuit, announced Wednesday, accuses the administration of “running roughshod over commonsense policies” that protect children.

Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maine, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah and Georgia have all signed on to the suit.

When asked by reporters whether Florida would join the suit, Scott said it was a new mandate and the state is “clearly reviewing it.” He then criticized the Obama administration for the directive.

“To me, it looks just like blackmail,” he said, saying the federal government is changing the rules for how states can receive funding.

The directive from the U.S. Justice and Education Departments says public schools are obligated to treat transgender students in a way that matches their gender identity, even if education documents indicate a different sex. While it doesn’t impost new legal requirements, it is meant to clarify expectations to school districts that receive federal funding.

“I’m a father. I’m a grandfather. I’m a governor that’s focused on the safety of the 20 million people that live in a state and the 100 million people that visit the state,” said Scott. “If you think that this new federal mandate is going to say a man can walk into a bathroom of a young girl or a locker room, that’s concerning.”

Scott did not clarify his comments when asked by a reporter whether he thought allowing a transgender person to use the restroom of their gender identity was the same as allowing a man to use a women’s bathroom.