A federal judge in Texas Sunday blocked the Obama administration from enforcing guideline released by the Department of Education instructing public schools not to discriminate against transgender students.
The judge, George W. Bush appointee Reed O’Connor, ruled in favor of the 13 states led by Texas suing the Obama administration over the guideline, in which the administration urged school districts across the country to permit transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms matching their identity.
The judge said his order was not yet weighing the “difficult issue of balancing the protection of students’ rights and that of personal privacy when using school bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and other intimate facilities, while ensuring that no student is unnecessarily marginalized while attending school.”
Rather, Judge O’Connor said, he was placing an injunction on the directive because the states were likely to prevail on their argument that the administration did not go through proper rules and comment process for regulations, and that the Department of Education’s interpretation of civil rights law was not in line with how the text was understood when it was passed.
The Obama administration has argued that it has the authority to issue the directives protecting trans students because Title IX’s language barring discrimination on the basis of sex could be interpreted to include gender identity. The court Sunday said that the states would likely succeed in their arguments that the language was not ambiguous and thus does not lend itself to that interpretation.
The order placed a nationwide injunction on the policy, and said that the administration cannot force the states challenging the directive to implement the policy.
“Further, while this injunction remains in place, Defendants are enjoined from initiating, continuing, or concluding any investigation based on Defendants’ interpretation that the definition of sex includes gender identity in Title IX’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex,” the order said. “Additionally, Defendants are enjoined from using the Guidelines or asserting the Guidelines carry weight in any litigation initiated following the date of this Order.”
The order comes as the Supreme Court in a separate lawsuit had halted a lower court’s ruling allowing a trans student in Virginia to use the bathroom of his gender identity.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton celebrated the ruling in a statement Monday that said he was “pleased that the court ruled against the Obama Administration’s latest illegal federal overreach.”
Read the full order below: