Education Law

Federal judge blocks US from enforcing directive to schools on transgender students and bathrooms

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Transgender restroom

A federal judge in Texas has barred the federal government from enforcing its directive that public schools allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor of Fort Worth issued a nationwide injunction (PDF) barring enforcement of the guidelines on Sunday in a suit involving 13 states and two school districts.

The suit claims the United States misinterpreted Title IX of the Education Act of 1972, which bars discrimination on the basis of sex in schools receiving federal funds. O’Connor agreed.

O’Connor said the federal government had bypassed the notice and comment process before developing the guidelines. And he said the guidelines are contrary to the meaning of the term “sex” in Title IX. Publications covering O’Connor’s ruling include Bloomberg News, USA Today, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Austin American Statesman.

It can’t be disputed that the plain meaning of the term sex, as used in Title IX implementing regulations, “meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth,“ O’Connor wrote.

The judge added that the injunction applies only in states that require separation of student facilities based on biological sex.

The plaintiffs in the suit are Texas, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maine, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, the Arizona Department of Education and school districts in Arizona and Texas.

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