Conservative states challenge federal rule on treatment of transgender students

At least five Republican attorneys general are challenging a federal rule that aims to protect the rights of transgender students in the nation’s schools by, among other things, banning a blanket policy that bans transgender students from school bathrooms that correspond with their gender.

The officials claim the new policy would harm women and girls, trample on freedom of expression and create burdens on the states, which are among those with laws passed in recent years that conflict with the new regulations.

“This is an overreach by the federal government, but it is on a level and dimension like no other,” Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill said at a news conference Monday.

One lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Monroe, Louisiana, the same day the Department of Education’s rulemaking on Title IX enforcement was officially finalized. Leading state government attorneys from Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi and Montana want the court to delay their effective date, which is scheduled for August 1. Texas filed a similar lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Amarillo.

“The Final Rule drives a dagger through the heart of Title IX’s mandate,” the states argue in their legal filings. “The central feature of the Final Rule is the Department’s extraordinary step to transform Title IX’s ban on discrimination on the basis of ‘sex’ to discrimination on the basis of ‘gender identity,’ which advocates call “a wildly ambiguous term.” to call.

If left unchallenged, the ordinance could invalidate several state laws passed in recent years — and strip away a number of laws that have been considered by state lawmakers, including in Louisiana. The regulation applies to all schools that receive federal funding.

The states say the rule bans male and female restrooms and locker rooms, “forces school officials to use pronouns associated with a student’s claimed ‘gender identity,’ and to force students to do so,” and that it “ there is no other option than to sound the death knell for women’s sports.”

The rule opposes a sweeping policy to allow transgender people to use school bathrooms that correspond with their gender. At least eleven states, including Alabama, already have such laws on their books.

The lawsuit says that while the ordinance does not specifically address sports participation, it would apply there as well. In recent years, at least 25 states have passed laws banning transgender girls from girls’ sports leagues — all in the name of preserving girls’ sports.

President Joe Biden’s administration previously planned to announce a policy that would ban schools from outright banning transgender girls from girls’ sports, but backed away from that plan and did not include it in the regulation.

Still, advocates on both sides of the issue say the new rules appear to prohibit, at the very least, a complete ban on these sports laws.

The regulations are also murky when it comes to laws intended to protect students and/or teachers from discipline if they misgender transgender or binary students by using the wrong pronouns for them; at least four states have such laws. The regulation says that using the wrong pronoun “may, under certain circumstances, constitute sex discrimination under Title IX.” But it is also made clear that a “silly comment” does not constitute harassment.

A handful of states — including Texas on Monday — told local school districts not to change their policies against sex discrimination in light of the new regulations.

It’s no surprise that conservative states are questioning the law.

Attorneys general often sue over federal administrative actions, especially those by presidents of the opposing party. And the fight for the rights of transgender children has become a major political issue in recent years and remains so in this presidential election year.