Texas Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Transgender Guidance in Schools

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor (R) has temporarily blocked the Obama administration’s restroom and locker room guidance for transgender students ahead of Monday’s first day of school.

“IT CANNOT BE DISPUTED THAT THE PLAIN MEANING OF THE TERM SEX AS USED IN (THE LAW) WHEN IT WAS ENACTED BY (THE)DOE FOLLOWING PASSAGE OF TITLE IX MEANT THE BIOLOGICAL AND ANATOMICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE STUDENTS AS DETERMINED AT THEIR BIRTH.’

The 38 page ruling was issued late Sunday evening and states that federal agencies went beyond their authority with their intent behind the 1972 Title IX Education Amendments. “It cannot be disputed that the plain meaning of the term sex as used in (the law) when it was enacted by (the) DOE following passage of Title IX meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth,’ stated O’Connor in his ruling.

The temporary injunction means that public schools across the United States will not have to comply with the administrations guidelines. The injunction will remain in place until the case is heard before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who pushed for the injunction, released the following statement on his website:

“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 suit was originally filed in May 2016 and included Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Utah in addition to Texas. It also included the Republican Governors of Kentucky, Maine and Mississippi. Five civil rights organizations who had submitted a joint amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief in the lawsuit – Lambda Legal, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU of Texas; National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR); Transgender Law Center; and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) – issued the following statement in response to Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruling:

A ruling by a single judge in one circuit cannot and does not undo the years of clear legal precedent nationwide establishing that transgender students have the right to go to school without being singled out for discrimination. This unfortunate and premature ruling may, however, confuse school districts that are simply trying to support their students, including their transgender students.

So let us make it clear to those districts: your obligations under the law have not changed, and you are still not only allowed but required to treat transgender students fairly.

The scope of this injunction has no effect on the ability of other courts or lawyers representing transgender people to continue to rely on the federal government’s interpretations of Title IX or on prior decisions that have reached similar conclusions about the scope of federal sex discrimination laws.

The court’s misguided decision targets a small, vulnerable group of young people – transgender elementary and high school students – for potential continued harassment, stigma and abuse.

The injunction comes just weeks after the Supreme Court temporarily blocked Virginia student Gavin Grimm, a transgender male student, from being allowed to access the boy’s facilities in Gloucester County Schools. It also comes a week after United States District Judge Sean Cox dismissed a case where funeral director Aimee Stephens was fired from her position for being transgender on the grounds of religious liberty. August 2016 has proven to be a tough month for the transgender community, however it is expected that all these cases appear destined for a Supreme Court ruling.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor becomes the second judge appointed by President George W. Bush (2007) to rule against the transgender community this month.

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