Metro Weekly

Two Judges Block Biden’s Pro-Transgender Guidance for Schools

Federal judges in Texas and Louisiana ruled that the Biden administration's guidance expanding Title IX protections is unlawful.

A federal judge in Texas blocked rules adopted by the Biden administration aimed at prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ students — particularly those who are transgender — in educational settings.

The guidance from the U.S. Department of Education was adopted in April. It was set to take effect on August 1.

Its aim was to help school officials interpret and abide by Title IX, the federal law opposing sex-based discrimination in educational institutions.

Sex-based discrimination historically has been interpreted as applying only to incidents where a person is discriminated against based on their assigned sex at birth.

But the Biden rules expanded the interpretation to include instances of discrimination against a person based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as failure to adhere to gender-based stereotypes of behavior or dress.

The guidance from the Education Department sought to align protections for transgender students with a landmark 2020 Supreme Court decision that found that the Civil Rights Act deemed incidents of anti-LGBTQ discrimination to be a form of sex-based discrimination.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration to block Title IX, arguing the rules will allow “biological males” to enter sex-designated spaces like restrooms and changing rooms, potentially placing women in danger — if not by transgender individuals themselves, then by other men who would claim to be transgender to gain access to intimate spaces.

Paxton also challenged the rules on the grounds that they would empower the federal government to potentially pull federal education dollars from schools that don’t wish to acknowledge gender identity as real or wish to keep sex-designated spaces reserved for those assigned a certain sex at birth.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, of the Northern District of Texas, sided with Paxton, and on June 11, issued a ruling that declared the guidance unlawful.

He blocked the Biden administration, federal agencies, and employees of agencies from enforcing the revised guidance and issuing any future guidelines that treat anti-LGBTQ discrimination as a form of sex discrimination.

In his ruling, O’Connor asserted the guidance conflicts with Texas state law requiring sex-segregated spaces and activities, and that the Biden administration exceeded its authority in issuing the guidance, reports The Hill.

“Having considered the briefing and applicable law, the Court concludes that Defendants cannot regulate state educational institutions in this way without violating federal law,” O’Connor wrote. “Accordingly, the Court holds that Defendants engaged in unlawful agency action taken in excess of their authority, all while failing to adhere to the appropriate notice and comments requirements when doing so.”

O’Connor also claimed that allowing the guidance to take effect would “functionally rewrite” Title IX and usurp powers reserved for members of Congress, who, as the nation’s legislative branch of government, are tasked with writing new laws or clarifying existing ones.

O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, has become infamous for out-of-the-mainstream rulings motivated by conservative ideology.

For instance, in 2018, he ruled that the entire Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional. A year later, he ruled that protections for transgender people against discrimination in health care were unlawful because they violated the religious freedom of Christian medical providers.

Paxton hailed the decision as a victory against overreach by the federal government.

“Joe Biden’s unlawful effort to weaponize Title IX for his extremist agenda has been stopped in its tracks,” he said in a statement. “Texas has prevailed on behalf of the entire Nation.”

The Biden administration has not yet finalized a separate rule regarding the eligibility of transgender athletes to participate on sports teams that align with their gender identity.

Two days after O’Connor’s ruling, a Louisiana federal judge blocked the Title IX rules from taking effect after hearing a lawsuit brought by the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, and Idaho.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty of the Western District of Louisiana, a Trump appointee, declared that the Department of Education exceeded its authority in issuing the Title IX guidance, which violates the free speech and free exercise of religion of those with beliefs opposing homosexuality and gender-nonconformity.

Including the Texas and Louisiana-led lawsuits, at least seven legal challenges, filed on behalf of 22 Republican-led states, are demanding the overturn of the Title IX guidance.

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!