Continuing its crusade against equality in public bathrooms, the Texas Attorney General's Office has requested a preliminary injunction against the Obama administration, after the feds directed all public schools not to discriminate against transgender students. The legal filing stems from the May 25 lawsuit that Texas filed against the feds, joined by 11 other states. That number has since grown to 12.
In May, the U.S. departments of Education and Justice threatened to take away Title IX funds from schools that prohibited transgender students from playing on sports teams and using bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identities. The directive is intended to protect transgender kids from bullying and to provide them equal access to basic amenities, like bathrooms, without their feeling uncomfortable. The letter from the departments said: "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," such as transgender students.
However, Texas — and the 12 other states in the suit — has somehow interpreted the directive to mean schools must allow "both sexes" to use whatever bathroom they want. The state does not appear to formally recognize that some students are medically diagnosed with gender dysphoria, for example, and therefore identify with a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth.
"The Obama Administration is attempting to rewrite Congress’s use of the term 'sex' in multiple federal laws to now include 'gender identity,'" the AG's office said in a release. "If successful, this radical change simultaneously opens up all intimate areas within schools and workplaces to members of both sexes."
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has said that he would rather throw away $3.1 billion in federal education funds rather than comply with the order. The lawsuit, however, not only solidifies the state's commitment to potentially losing that money, but also opens it up to losing millions more in litigation fees just so Texas does not have to treat transgender students equally.
As Equality Texas said in a statement at the time, "The attorney general has determined to waste millions in an obviously futile attempt to prevent our transgender citizens, and in particular transgender kids, from being afforded the most basic dignity."
Already, various policies in Texas or opinions by Attorney General Ken Paxton appear to clearly go against federal non-discrimination guidelines.
Recently, Patrick asked Paxton for an opinion on whether the Fort Worth Independent School District could enact a policy stating that transgender students must be accommodated and afforded access to the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity, so they simply feel safe at school and free from harassment. The policy also stated the students can choose whether to involve their parents in requesting the accommodations.
Surprise, surprise: Paxton ruled that the school's policy, which pretty much mirrors the federal guidelines, is against the law because schools can withhold information from parents. In other words, he believes schools should be able to out transgender kids to parents. (His opinions do not have the force of law, however.)
And next month, thanks to a new policy from the University Interscholastic League, which governs high school sports rules, transgender students may be completely barred from participating in sports. The new policy mandates that students must try out for the team that corresponds with their assigned gender at birth. If they no longer identify with that gender (if they are transgender, for example), then they can't play. It's what many advocates consider a discriminatory practice that the federal guidelines intend to prevent.
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