District Court Hears Challenge to Federal Guidance Protecting Transgender Students and Employees

District Court Hears Challenge to Federal Guidance Protecting Transgender Students and Employees

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25534811843_605e7c7a57_studentsFive leading national civil and LGBT rights organizations urged the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to reject an effort to block the Obama administration’s interpretations of several federal laws pending trial in Texas v. United States, including federal guidance advising public school districts across the country that the federal Departments of Justice and Education believe that transgender students should be allowed to use restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. Texas and 12 other states or governors or agencies of those states argued in court Friday for a preliminary injunction enjoining these federal agencies’ interpretations from having any effect while the lawsuit proceeds.

“Texas and 12 other states, governors of states and political jurisdictions have filed a meritless lawsuit against multiple federal agencies seeking to preserve the ability to discriminate against a highly vulnerable population – transgender elementary and high school students and transgender employees. We are urging this court to protect transgender students and workers and allow them to enjoy a safe and discrimination-free education and workplace. We filed an amicus brief in this case because we oppose the efforts of state officials to manipulate the federal court system in order to skirt well-established law in their home circuits that affirms and respects the rights of transgender students and employees. We urge the court to deny the states’ request for a preliminary injunction,” the five organizations – Lambda Legal; American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU of Texas; Transgender Law Center; National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR); and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) – said in a joint statement in response to the hearing Friday on a preliminary injunction.

In addition to Texas, the other plaintiffs in Texas v. United States include: Harrold Independent School District in Texas; the Arizona Department of Education; the Heber-Overgaard Unified School District in Arizona; Wisconsin; Maine Governor Paul LePage; Kentucky; Mississippi; Oklahoma; Louisiana; Alabama; Georgia; Tennessee; West Virginia; and Utah. Named defendants include: the United States of America, the Departments of Justice, Education and Labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and numerous federal officials.

The lawsuit targets various federal letters, guides, memos, and statements regarding Title IX of the Education Amendments, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) that conclude that federal bans on sex discrimination encompass gender identity discrimination and that individuals should be allowed to access single-sex, multi-user facilities consistent with their gender identity. The lawsuit seeks to have those letters, guides, memos and statements declared to be in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act and the Constitution and enjoined nationwide. A copycat lawsuit was filed recently by the state of Nebraska, joined by Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan (through its attorney general), Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Photo by University of the Fraser Valley

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