Federal Court blocked new rules aimed at protecting transgender students

A federal court has temporarily blocked the Department of Education from enforcing new regulations aimed at protecting transgender students in schools, ruling that opponents who sued to stop them will likely win their case when the The matter will be fully investigated.

The full set of rules, released in April, represents the Biden administration’s interpretation of Title IX, a half-century-old law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools. The rules are expected to come into force in August. 1, and will impact all K-12 schools, colleges, and universities nationwide that accept any type of federal funding.

The regulation states that discrimination based on sex includes discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation and would require, for example, that schools allow transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their identity of gender and to use the students’ preferred pronouns.

It was challenged in federal court by four states: Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana and Idaho. The preliminary injunction only applies in these four states, although similar challenges are pending in other states. Thursday’s order was the first ruling in any of these cases.

The injunction was issued Thursday by U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty, head of the Western District of Louisiana, who wrote that protecting “biological males” as if they were women went against the law. objective of Title IX. He said the settlement represented an “abuse of power” by the Biden administration.

“Title IX was enacted to protect discrimination against biological women. However, the final rule could likely cause women to experience more biological discrimination than before Title IX was enacted,” he wrote. “[B]By allowing biological men who identify as women access to locker rooms, showers, and toilets, biological women risk invasion of privacy, embarrassment, and sexual assault.

The Biden administration’s regulations also set rules for how schools must respond to and judge allegations of sex discrimination, including sexual assault, and the court found some of the new standards to be too broad. But it was the rules regarding gender identity that drew the most opposition and were the focus of Doughty’s order.

The Department of Education is reviewing the decision but is sticking to the regulations, spokeswoman Vanessa Harmoush said. She said the rules were developed “following a rigorous process” to ensure that no person experiences gender discrimination in a federally funded educational environment. “We will continue to fight for every student,” she said.

The Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group for the LGBTQ+ community, said it would also fight for the protections outlined in the settlement.

“Today’s decision prioritizes anti-LGBTQ+ hatred over the safety and well-being of the state’s students. “This is MAGA theater whose dangerous goal is to make discrimination law,” Kelley Robinson, the group’s president, said in a statement.

Opponents of the Biden administration’s regulations welcomed the decision and highlighted other outstanding challenges.

“We are confident that other courts and states will soon follow,” said Bob Eitel, president of the Defense of Freedom Institute, an advocacy group that has served as co-counsel to states challenging the regulations.

The Biden administration’s regulations deferred the question of how schools should handle the contentious issue of athletics and whether trans women should be allowed to compete in girls’ and women’s sports. A separate regulation on this issue is pending.

But in his ruling, Doughty said the regulations issued meant schools would be forced to let transgender girls and women compete, which he said would “essentially reverse the premise of Title IX,” which was intended in part to give girls and women equal access to sport.

The Biden administration has long maintained that Title IX protections extend to issues of gender identity and sexual orientation, but the Title IX regulation was the first time the Department of Education put that interpretation into a binding regulation.

In releasing its Title IX rules, administration officials pointed to a 2020 Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which found that gender discrimination in employment includes gender identity and sexual orientation. The same logic applies to Title IX, they said.

The judge rejected that interpretation, saying among other things that the high court did not clarify whether its reasoning extended to other civil rights laws. He also argued that the underlying causes differ.

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