^
Keep Houston Press Free
4
| Courts |

Judge in Texas Blocks White House Transgender-Friendly Bathroom Policy

Ruling in favor of Texas, a Fort Worth federal judge has blocked Obama Administration guidelines allowing transgender students to use the bathrooms corresponding with their gender identities from going into effect.

Late Sunday, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor put a nationwide preliminary injunction on the feds' guidelines just as the new school year kicked off. O'Connor ruled not on the merits or substance of the guidelines themselves, but on whether the feds followed constitutional rules when writing them. O'Connor concluded that the feds didn't follow the Administrative Procedure Act before issuing the directive to every school district in the country, and that the transgender-friendly guidelines won't be valid unless the feds follow proper law-making rules first.

"This president is attempting to rewrite the laws enacted by the elected representatives of the people, and is threatening to take away federal funding from schools to force them to conform," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement. "That cannot be allowed to continue, which is why we took action to protect States and School Districts, who are charged under state law to establish a safe and disciplined environment conducive to student learning.”

Texas, joined by 12 other states, sued the Obama Administration in May after the federal departments of education and justice sent a letter to all school districts, informing schools that, if they did not allow transgender students to use bathrooms, locker rooms and play on sports teams that correspond with their gender identities, the school districts would be violating Title IX. In as many words, the feds threatened to strip districts of federal education funding if they failed to comply.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Republican leaders in Texas leaders pretty much vowed never to allow such a policy to exist in the state —even if it meant losing $3.1 billion in federal education funding, as Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick made clear in May. Paxton asserted that Title IX did not extend to transgender students based on gender identity, but only based on biological sex. And together, Republican Texas leaders turned the feds' attempt to provide a fair, comfortable and discrimination-free environment for transgender students at school into a fight over protecting non-transgender students' privacy and safety.

It was a perspective that the feds expressly shot down in their letter to school districts, saying: "As is consistently recognized in civil rights cases, the desire to accommodate others' discomfort cannot justify a policy that singles out and disadvantages a particular class of students."

Unfortunately, though, until the feds want to take the guidelines through the proper rule-making process, allowing time for public notice and comment first, then it looks like others' discomfort will come first.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.