Eleven states on Wednesday announced a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its federal guidance to US public schools stating that transgender students be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice.
The administration's May 13 announcement riled many conservatives across the country, touching on the hot-button issue of what bathrooms transgender individuals can and can't use. The federal guidance followed the passage of a controversial bill in North Carolina that prevents cities within the state from allowing transgender individuals from using the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.
The states suing the administration are Texas, Alabama, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Arizona, Maine, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, Georgia, and West Virginia.
Republican Governor Greg Abbott tweeted: "Texas will sue to stop Obama's transgender directive to schools."
The lawsuit accuses the Obama administration of "running roughshod over commonsense policies" that protect children, according to Associated Press, and asks a judge to condemn the directive as unlawful.
"Defendants have conspired to turn workplaces and education settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights," the lawsuit asserts. "Defendants cannot foist these radical changes on the nation."
Under Title IX, schools which receive federal money cannot discriminate based on a student's sex, including a student's transgender status. The US Education and Justice Departments said in a letter sent to school districts nationwide that while its guidance carried no legal weight, they must not discriminate against students, including based on their gender identity.
The directive suggested that school districts defying the Obama administration's legal interpretation could face lawsuits or loss of federal aid.
"No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus," said US Secretary of Education John B. King Jr on May 13. "This guidance further clarifies what we've said repeatedly — that gender identity is protected under Title IX."
Immediately after the guidance was issued, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton vowed to fight the Obama administration's position in the latest battleground on the issue of rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
A similar legal battle is already underway in North Carolina, which became the first US state to require transgender people to use restrooms in public buildings and schools that match the sex on their birth certificate instead of one that matches their gender identity.
The federal government filed suit against North Carolina, stating that the law violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The state filed its own suit against the Obama administration. North Carolina's law also has triggered a backlash from corporations, conventions, tourists, and entertainers who oppose it.
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