Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Biden Administration's Title IX Guidelines That Protect Transgender Students

Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Biden Administration's Title IX Guidelines That Protect Transgender Students

July 18, 2022

A federal judge temporarily blocked the Biden administration’s Title IX guidance, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Eastern District of Tennessee Judge Charles Atchley, who is a Donald Trump appointee, said on Friday that the Department of Education’s Title IX guidance “directly interferes with and threatens Plaintiff States’ ability to continue enforcing their state laws,” Politico reports. 

A coalition of 20 Republican attorneys general, led by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, have argued their respective states face a “credible threat” of losing federal funding due to their anti-transgender laws and policies. They also argued that forcing schools to use transgender students’ pronouns violates the First Amendment, and that the Department of Education’s guidance is illegal under the 10th Amendment, which delegates certain powers to the states.

“As it currently stands, plaintiffs must choose between the threat of legal consequences — enforcement action, civil penalties, and the withholding of federal funding — or altering their state laws to ensure compliance with the guidance and avoid such adverse action,” Judge Atchley wrote in the lawsuit. 

Former Tennessee Associate Solicitor General Sarah Campbell, who is now on the Tennessee Supreme Court, argued in November that the Department of Education’s guidance, which was issued last year, rewrote “the federal anti-discrimination laws they enforce,” and that “states’ sovereign authority to enforce its own legal code was directly injured as a result.”

More than a dozen states, including Arizona, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Florida, have passed laws banning transgender athletes from participating in school sports teams that align with their gender identity. 

“We are disappointed and outraged by this ruling from the Eastern District of Tennessee where, in yet another example of far-right judges legislating from the bench, the court blocked guidance affirming what the Supreme Court decided in Bostock v. Clayton County: that LGBTQ+ Americans are protected under existing civil rights law,” Joni Madison, interim president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. 

“Nothing in this decision can stop schools from treating students consistent with their gender identity. And nothing in this decision eliminates schools’ obligations under Title IX or students’ or parents’ abilities to bring lawsuits in federal court,” Madison continued. “HRC will continue to fight these anti-transgender rulings with every tool in our toolbox.”

In June, the Department of Education proposed new changes to Title IX that would prohibit schools from discriminating against transgender students. Once finalized, the department’s proposed rule would codify its guidance protecting transgender students.

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