Rep. Lofgren Calls Civil Rights Commissioner ‘Ignorant Bigot’ for Criticizing Bathroom Mandate

Lauretta Brown | May 25, 2016 | 2:12pm EDT
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Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) (AP Photo)

( – Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) called U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Gail Heriot, a law professor at the University of San Diego School of Law, an “ignorant bigot” for Heriot’s testimony Tuesday that the guidance issued by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which says students may use bathrooms and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity, was “teaching young people a terrible lesson.”

The exchange occurred during a hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee’s Task Force on Executive Overreach.

“I don’t usually call out witnesses, but here’s what the written testimony says,” Lofgren began.

“We are teaching young people a terrible lesson.” Heriot said in her written testimony as quoted by Lofgren. “If I believe that I am a Russian princess, that doesn’t make me a Russian princess, even if my friends and acquaintances are willing to indulge my fantasy. Nor am I a Great Horned Owl just because—as I have been told—I happen to share some personality traits with those feathered creatures.”

Lofgren said that she found those remarks “rather offensive.”  

“It says to me that the witness really doesn’t know anything and probably has never met a transgender child who is going through, in almost every case, a very difficult experience finding themselves,” Lofgren said.

“I believe that the department’s guidance will help schools all over the United States in preventing the kind of violence and the harassment that these transgender kids find too often, so that’s all I’m going to say on that. You know, I think it’s very regrettable that that comment was put in the record, and I think it’s highly offensive,” Lofgren continued.

“Could I comment on that please?” Heriot asked.

“No, it’s just my opinion,” Lofgren replied.

“I think you’ll find that many people find it very offensive that the Department of Education--” Heriot began.

“I think you’re a bigot, lady,” Lofgren interrupted. “I think you’re an ignorant bigot. I think you’re an ignorant bigot and…”

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), the task force’s chair intervened at this point, informing Lofgren that she was out of order, adding, “We don’t call names in this committee, and you will not be recognized to do that.”

“Mr. Chairman, it is my time, and I would just like to say that we allow witnesses to say offensive things, but I cannot allow that kind of bigotry to go into the record unchallenged. Now, I don’t want to get into a debate about it,” Lofgren said.

“Does that mean you think I am a Russian princess?” Heriot asked.

“I have no idea,” Lofgren replied and then questioned another witness.    

Heriot was testifying Tuesday at “The Federal Government on Autopilot: Delegation of Regulatory Authority to an Unaccountable Bureaucracy” hearing that the Office of Civil Rights “has often gone far beyond what Congress intended in the enforcement of legislation,” particularly in relation to the recent guidance on bathroom and locker room use in schools.

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