Officials from 11 states filed a lawsuit Wednesday to reverse the Obama administration’s legal stance on transgender discrimination in public schools, setting up a second major legal battle over transgender rights in the federal courts.
The complaint, filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on behalf of a local school district, asks the federal district court in northern Texas to block the administration from implementing its May 13 guidance letter on protecting transgender rights in public schools.
State attorneys-general from Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Utah joined the lawsuit, as well as Arizona’s Department of Education and Maine Governor Paul LePage.
In the guidance letter, the U.S. Education and Justice Departments notified every public-school district in the country that Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, also applies to gender identity. Under that interpretation, public schools that discriminate against transgender students could risk losing access to federal funds.
The letter covered a broad spectrum of school functions, ranging from housing and single-sex classrooms to graduation ceremonies and school records. But its explicit protections for transgender students who use the bathroom or locker room that corresponds to their gender identity received the fiercest opposition.