State of Texas v. United States of America, Dkt. No. 7:16-cv-00054-O (N.D. Tex. August 21, 2016).

Facts:  Eleven states, including Texas, filed suit against several federal government agencies, including the Department of Education and Department of Justice seeking to block enforcement of federal guidelines regarding transgender students. The suit challenged the assertions that federal anti-discrimination laws require that all persons must be afforded the opportunity to have access to restrooms, locker rooms, showers, and other intimate facilities which match their gender identity rather than their biological sex. The lawsuit claimed that the federal government overstepped its authority in interpreting federal discrimination laws in this way.  The suit requested that the court block the federal government from implementing, applying, or enforcing the new guidance interpretation.

Ruling:  In August of 2016, the Texas federal court assigned to the case granted the states’ request and issued a temporary injunction preventing the federal government from enforcing the guidelines in pending investigations and litigation.  According to the court, the guidance (1) was issued without complying with notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act and (2) contradicted existing legislative and regulatory texts.  At this point, therefore, schools are not obligated to follow federal guidelines, but they may choose to do so.  This case will likely proceed on appeal and there are other cases being litigated by transgender students.  Thus, districts will have to keep a close eye on continuing legal developments in this area.

Photo by Ted Eytan via Flickr

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