This article has been updated.
On Friday, the Obama administration issued a sweeping edict to all public schools, from kindergarten up, that they must allow children who identify as another sex to use the bathroom and changing room in which they feel most comfortable. After initialing punting saying, “Right now, I just don’t have an opinion,” Republican frontrunner Donald Trump appeared on some mainstream media outlets Friday to make clear that he believed the Obama administration had overreached.
“I believe it should be states’ rights and I think the states should make the decision. They’re more capable of making the decision,” Trump told ABC’s Good Morning America Friday, adding later, “I think many things actually should be states’ rights, but this is a perfect example of it.”
On NBC’s Today Show, Trump made similar remarks, saying he thinks “this should be a states’ issue” and suggesting that the whole issue has been blown out of proportion. Transgenders make up “a tiny, tiny portion of the population,” he said, but he also stated that “everybody has to be protected.”
“I believe it should be states’ rights and I think the states should make the decision.”
Trump has signaled in the past that he leans toward the LGBT side of the “transgender bathroom” debate, announcing that former male Olympian Caitlyn Jenner could use the women’s bathroom at Trump Tower (which Jenner took him up on) and openly criticizing North Carolina’s bathroom bill at a rally in April for being too “strong,” though he walked back his criticism a day later by emphasizing states’ rights.
“One of the best answers I heard was from a commentator yesterday, saying, ‘Leave it the way it is!'” Trump said of the North Carolina law at an April 21 rally. “North Carolina, what they’re going through with all the business that’s leave and all the strife, and that’s on both sides. You leave it the way it is… There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble. And the problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife and economic punishment that they’re taking.”
On Fox News the next day, he walked back the comments a little and approached the issue from the angle of states’ rights.
“I love North Carolina, and they have a law, and it’s a law that, you know, unfortunately is causing them some problems. And I fully understand that they want to go through, but they are losing business, and they are having people come out against [the law],” Trump told Sean Hannity, adding, “I think that local communities and states should make the decision. And I feel very strongly about that. The federal government should not be involved.”
As for other Republicans’ reactions to the Obama administration’s massive overreach of executive authority: several have already responded, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who announced Thursday that he will be suing the Department of Education over the issue: