Great news! In a ruling issued late on Sunday by Texas Federal District Judge Reed O’Connor, teachers and students returning to the nation’s classrooms will be required to maintain the status quo when it comes to bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities. Judge O’Connor concluded that there is a strong likelihood the coalition of 13 states would win their case against the Justice Department and issued a nationwide stay of the Obama Administration’s transgender bathroom directive issued to all schools and universities requiring that students be granted access to the bathroom, locker room or shower facility matching their gender identity or risk losing federal funding.
Yesterday’s decision is at least the third legal setback for transgender rights in federal court this month. The U.S. Supreme Court blocked a lower court ruling requiring a Virginia school district to allow a biologically female student to use the boy’s restroom on August 3. And last Thursday, a federal judge in Detroit upheld the firing of a transgender funeral home employee, ruling that “neither transgender status nor gender identity are protected classes” under anti-discrimination laws.
O’Connor found that the administration didn’t follow the proper notice and comment process for issuing their guidelines to educators and also concluded that the directives were “compulsory in nature”. He determined that the Title IX law is “not ambiguous,” writing that “it cannot be disputed that the plain meaning of the term sex as used … following passage of Title IX meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth.”
The Texas decision will definitely impact North Carolina’s five lawsuits concerning whether the federal Department of Justice has the power to force North Carolina schools to follow its directive to allow students access to bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers based on their “gender identity” rather than their biological and anatomical sex and whether North Carolina’s HB 2 was a proper exercise of its sovereign power as a state.
As U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder considers the arguments he heard in Winston-Salem on August 1st to temporarily strike down the State’s bathroom law until the full arguments can be heard in the upcoming case scheduled for November 14th, he is sure to give deference to the Texas ruling enjoining the DOJ Guidelines nationwide. Earlier this month Schroeder was keenly interested in the law’s impact on schools and universities and specifically asked questions about Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and the University of North Carolina as students return to the classroom this month.
Texas Judge O’Connor stated in his opinion that: “It cannot be disputed that the plain meaning of the term sex … meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth.” He also stated that this “complied with Congressional intent when drawing the distinctions in § 106.33 based on the biological differences between male and female students. This undoubtedly was permitted because the areas identified by the regulations are places where male and female students may have to expose their “nude or partially nude body, genitalia, and other private parts, and separation from members of the opposite sex, those whose bodies possessed a different anatomical structure, was needed to ensure personal privacy.”
Executive Director of the North Carolina Values Coalition Tami Fitzgerald said, “The University of North Carolina and school districts across the state such as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools can no longer chose to ignore HB2. Under the Texas Federal judge’s order, the Obama Administration’s interpretation of the word “sex” in Title IX to mean “gender identity” is enjoined nationwide: therefore, CMS, UNC and all other school districts and public universities must now comply with North Carolina’s law (HB2) that clearly requires local boards of education and state agencies to make sure that multi-occupancy bathrooms or changing facilities are designated for and used only by students based on their biological sex.”
Under his injunction, Texas U.S. Judge O’Connor ordered all parties to “maintain the status quo” and said the administration was barred from enforcing their guidelines — or make any sort of investigation based on the idea that “the definition of sex includes gender identity.” The White House would also be barred from using the guidelines in any lawsuits, he wrote.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton represented a 13-state coalition in the federal court lawsuit in the Northern District of Texas said in a statement issued today, “We are pleased that the court ruled against the Obama Administration’s latest illegal federal overreach. This President is attempting to rewrite the laws enacted by the elected representatives of the people, and is threatening to take away federal funding from schools to force them to conform. That cannot be allowed to continue, which is why we took action to protect States and School Districts, who are charged under state law to establish a safe and disciplined environment conducive to student learning.”