Transgender directive challenged by 10 more states
LINCOLN, Neb. (BP) -- Ten more states have signed on to sue the Obama administration over its transgender directive that forces schools to allow students to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their perceived gender identity rather than their biological sex.
"It's putting school districts in a terrible position," said Nebraska attorney general Doug Peterson, who took the lead on the latest round of lawsuits. "It's trying to push a certain agenda through our school systems, and we need to simply stand up and say this does not make sense."
Nebraska, along with nine other states, filed an injunction in federal court July 8 in Nebraska against the joint mandate from the Department of Education and the Department of Justice. The complaint says the new instruction violates the procedure required by law to enact such policies and disregards efforts from school districts to develop individualized plans that best serve their students.
On May 13, the Obama administration sent a directive to every school district in the country interpreting Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments, a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination for federally funded education programs, as forbidding gender identity discrimination and stating that schools needed to update their policies to reflect that interpretation.
That means once a parent or legal guardian says a student identifies with a different gender, schools have to treat the student as such.
Peterson said the directive defies common sense and standard due process for such a sweeping change.
"When a federal agency takes such unilateral action in an attempt to change the meaning of established law, it leaves state and local authorities with no other option than to pursue legal clarity in federal court in order to enforce the rule of law," Peterson said.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, applauded the lawsuit.
"The guidance promulgated by the president's agencies represents his political views and does not carry the weight of law," the governor said in a statement.
Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming joined Nebraska in the lawsuit. The new court action follows a Texas-led coalition of 13 states that filed suit against the federal government over the same directive in May.
President Obama told BuzzFeed News his administration issued the directive because transgender students are a vulnerable minority subject to bullying. Denying them use of facilities matching their gender identity is discriminatory, he said.
"We are talking about kids, and anybody who's been in school, been in high school, who's been a parent, I think should realize that kids who are sometimes in the minority -- kids who have a different orientation or are transgender -- are subject to a lot of bullying. Potentially they are vulnerable," Obama said.
With the new action, a total of 23 states have officially stated their disagreement with Obama's interpretation of Title IX and claimed the school directive violates the Constitution.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who headed the first lawsuit, said at the Heritage Foundation last week he's confident courts will agree the directive is an executive overreach.
"How you feel about your gender does not change your sex at birth," Paxton said. "And how the president feels about his authority to write laws cannot change the fact that the Constitution grants that power to Congress."