News (USA)

Bush judge blocks Joe Biden’s protections for trans kids in schools

Boy student getting bullied in school
Photo: Shutterstock

On Tuesday, a federal judge blocked the Biden administration’s 2021 guidance on expanding Title IX protections to LGBTQ+ students.

Judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, issued an injunction that blocked the enforcement of the Title IX protections. This injunction is the result of a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Texas v. Cardona.

Title IX is the federal law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex in education. The Biden administration and several courts have interpreted it to include a ban on anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination since it is impossible to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity without taking sex into account.

“Rather than promote the equal opportunity, dignity, and respect that Title IX demands for both biological sexes, Defendants’ Guidance Documents do the opposite in an effort to advance an agenda wholly divorced from the text, structure, and contemporary context of Title IX,” O’Connor writes.

“To be clear, this Order does not encourage the outright deprivation of any student’s rights. Rather, this Order clarifies that the Department lacks authority to redefine ‘sex’ in a way that conflicts with Title IX.”

The order repeats what happened with a similar order from 2016 by President Barack Obama, where O’Connor blocked expanded protections for transgender youth in schools. 

While multiple arguments were given for the rejection in both cases, one notable thing they have in common is that O’Connor claimed they did not give the appropriate amount of time for notice and comment on the additional rules.

The guidance comes from information given by the Department of Education (DoE) in 2021.

The protections outlined apply to LGBTQ+ students, including, for example, trans students’ rights to use their preferred bathroom and trans inclusion into sports aligned with their gender identity.

They built the nondiscrimination guidance for LGBTQ+ students upon an executive order issued by President Biden earlier in the same year. The DoE guidance was issued initially through a notice of interpretation submitted through the federal registry on June 22, 2021 and was expanded the following day in a “Dear Educator” letter and a fact sheet

These guidelines were already blocked from enforcement in 20 Republican-led states by a Tennessee-based federal judge in 2022. These states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia.

The Biden administration unveiled additional rules for protecting transgender youth in schools in April of this year. These rules are still protected and are to go into effect on August 1.

Reed O’Connor, a judge for District Court for the Northern District of Texas, was appointed by George W. Bush and has a history of opposing LGBTQ+ rights. In 2021, he ruled that businesses can fire LGBTQ+ employees if it’s deemed against the business owners’ religion, and in 2022, he ruled that laws requiring business owners to cover the HIV prevention regimen PrEP violates religious freedom.

Paxton celebrated this order in a press release.

“Joe Biden’s unlawful effort to weaponize Title IX for his extremist agenda has been stopped in its tracks,” Paxton said. “Threatening to withhold education funding by forcing states to accept ‘transgender’ policies that put women in danger was plainly illegal. Texas has prevailed on behalf of the entire Nation.”

LGBTQ Nation reached out to the Department of Justice and the DoE for comment. The Department of Justice declined. If the DoE responds this article will be updated.

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