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Federal Court Halts Guidelines on Transgender Bathroom Use in Schools

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon

A federal court has blocked the Obama administration’s guidelines for bathroom use by transgender students in schools. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and 12 other states filed suit to block the guidelines issued this summer. In Judge Reed O’Connor’s injunction ruling, he says the federal government skirted rules that require public comment prior to a rollout of the guidelines such as these and that the guidelines themselves contradict state laws. 

The injunction suggests that, while the Department of Justice and the Department of Education didn’t put forth legally binding language in the guidelines, they do suggest that Texas’ requirement for separate facilities for transgender students violates Title IX. That, the court ruled, is effectively an agency action, as schools risk the loss of federal funding if they don’t comply.

The dustup over the guidelines started earlier this summer, when Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner adopted the guidelines, which was met with criticism from Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. A vocal critic of the guidelines, Patrick suggested in a May press conference that “the Legislature…is going to have to look at this issue because the law is clear.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose office brought forth the suit, said in a statement this morning that he was pleased with the court’s decision:

“We are pleased that the court ruled against the Obama Administration’s latest illegal federal overreach. 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. 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.”

The injunction takes effect immediately, and will last until a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision on the case. You can view the entire ruling below.

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