Texas judge halts transgender-student rules

A federal judge in Texas ordered on Sunday that enforcement of the Obama administration’s guidance for how schools deal with transgender students using single-sex bathrooms be halted, pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed on behalf of 13 states, Education Week reports.

“The Court concludes Plaintiffs have established that the failure to grant an injunction will place them in the position of either maintaining their current policies in the face of the federal government’s view that they are violating the law, or changing them to comply with the Guidelines and cede their authority over this issue,” US District Judge Reed O’Connor wrote.

At issue is guidance issued by the Departments of Education and Justice, advising schools that transgender students should be allowed to access single-sex bathrooms and changing areas based on their gender identity, which may be different from their biological sex. The departments’ interpretation of Title IX, which technically protects students from discrimination on the basis of “sex,” is that it applies to gender issues as well as sex issues.

But several states disagree, saying that the law technically only protects students from discrimination on the basis of sex, which technically refers to anatomy or genetics.

It may not matter much what Judge O’Connor finds, the New York Times reports, since a superior court, namely the US Supreme Court, has issued a temporary injunction saying essentially the same thing as Judge O’Connor’s order. If the Supreme Court hears the case, their ruling will put an end to this discussion once and for all.

If the Court says Title IX doesn’t apply to gender identity, we call on Congress and the state legislatures across the country to enact legislation that protects transgender students from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Whether or not the law protects transgender students under Title IX, they still deserve protection against discrimination on the basis that they are human beings.

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Paul Katula

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.