this May 25, 2016, file photo, Republican Texas
Attorney General Ken Paxton announces Texas' lawsuit
to challenge President Obama's transgender bathroom
order during a news conference in Austin, Texas. A
federal judge in Texas is blocking for now the Obama
administration's directive to U.S. public schools
that transgender students must be allowed to use the
bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their
chosen gender identity. Paxton had argued that
halting the law before school began was necessary
because districts risked losing federal education
dollars if they didn't comply.
Texas — A federal judge in Texas has blocked the Obama
administration's order that requires public schools to let
transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms
consistent with their chosen gender identity.
temporary injunction signed Sunday, U.S. District Judge
Reed O'Connor ruled that the federal education law known
as Title IX "is not ambiguous" about sex being
defined as "the biological and anatomical differences
between male and female students as determined at their
said the order would apply nationwide. The ruling, he
said, was not about the policy issues of transgender
rights but about his conclusion that federal officials
simply did not follow rules that required an opportunity
for comment before such directives are issued.
case presents the difficult issue of balancing the
protection of students' rights and that of personal
privacy ... while ensuring that no student is
unnecessarily marginalized while attending school,"
ruling was the second recent setback for transgender
advocates. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court
ruled that a Virginia school board can block for now a
transgender male from using the boys' restroom while
justices decide whether to fully intervene.
12 other states challenged the White House directive as
also sided with Republican state leaders who argued that
schools should have been allowed to weigh in before the
White House mandate was announced in May.
Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, had argued that
halting the Obama order before school began was necessary
because districts risked losing federal education dollars
if they did not comply. Federal officials did not
explicitly make that threat upon issuing the directive,
although they also never ruled out the possibility.
president is attempting to rewrite the laws enacted by the
elected representatives of the people and is threating to
take away federal funding from schools to force them to
conform," Paxton said. "That cannot be allowed
to continue, which is why we took action to protect states
and school districts."
Justice Department issued a brief statement saying it was
disappointed in the ruling and was reviewing its options.
If the Obama administration challenges the injunction, the
case would head next to the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit
Court of Appeals.
of Obama's directive also questioned how a district judge
in Wichita Falls, Texas, could issue a blanket injunction
for the entire U.S. when higher courts elsewhere have
upheld transgender rights.
example is the Virginia school board case: Even though the
Supreme Court is keeping the status quo for now, the 4th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the board
discriminated against the transgender student.
Wichita Falls. It doesn't have jurisdiction over the
entire country," said Josh Block, an attorney with
the American Civil Liberties Union.
ruling does not prohibit schools that allow transgender
students to use the facilities of their choice from
continuing to do so.
Castillo is a Dallas attorney for the gay rights group
Lambda Legal, which had urged the court to let the White
House directive stand. He said the latest ruling was a
continuation of attacks on transgender people.
think today is going to be a hard day for transgender
students," Castillo said. "The decision is
certainly emotional and certainly an attack on transgender
federal government issued the mandate days after the
Justice Department sued North Carolina over a state law
that requires people to use public bathrooms that
correspond with the sex on their birth certificate. U.S.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch likened that law to the
policies of racial segregation. Republicans have argued
such laws are commonsense privacy safeguards.
administration had told the court that recipients of
federal education dollars were "clearly on
notice" that anti-discrimination polices must be
followed. Texas alone gets roughly $10 billion in federal
lawsuit was filed in May by Texas, Alabama, Wisconsin,
West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah and
Georgia, and the Republican governors of Maine,
Mississippi and Kentucky. Two small school districts in
Arizona and Texas, which have fewer than 600 students
combined and no transgender persons on their campuses,
also joined the effort to prevent the directive from being
year, O'Connor granted an order that temporarily blocked
federal rules that would have expanded medical leave
benefits to some gay couples.