October 2016 Church & State - October 2016

Federal Court Blocks Trans Rights Directive

  AU admin

A federal court in Texas issued a nationwide injunction on Aug. 21 blocking the Obama administration’s new anti-discrimination guidance for federally funded schools .

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s action suspends the guidance, which was issued in May by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice. The rules would have prevented public schools from discriminating against students on the basis of sexual identity; it was fueled in part by the push to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that align with their gender orientation. 

O’Connor ruled that non-trans students shouldn’t have to use the same bathroom as their trans counterparts. He accused the federal government of misinterpreting the word “sex” in a federal law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs. Texas and other states argued in their lawsuit that in the law, the term “sex” applies only to sex assigned at birth.

Several civil rights organizations condemned the ruling and reminded public school districts that they have an obligation to respect the rights of transgender students.

O’Connor’s ruling in Texas v. United States could be temporary, since the injunction doesn’t block other courts from implementing the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law. The ruling will also be appealed, and some legal observers believe the issue will end up before the Supreme Court. 

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