A federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked Obama administration guidelines to public schools that allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice. The order, issued just as millions of Texas children were returning to the classroom, puts the regulations on hold until a court rules on the merits of a lawsuit filed by Texas and other states challenging the directive.
Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director of the ACLU of Texas, said the order does not prevent school districts from following the Title IX prohibitions on discrimination based on sex.
“I am disappointed by the judge’s ruling, but I do not believe that anything about this order changes what the law was before the case was filed, and it doesn’t change anything that’s happening in Texas schools as we begin another school year,” she said.
“Status Quo” Restored
The judge’s order, which cited the administration for not following proper rulemaking procedures, restores the “status quo” prior to the new guidelines in Texas and across the nation. The Texas Attorney General’s office praised the ruling, while the U.S. Department of Justice said it was disappointed and was reviewing its legal options.
Robertson said the nondiscrimination protections in Title IX applied to transgender students even before the administration issued its guidelines last spring. She said despite the judge’s order, school districts are still required to protect students’ civil rights.
“Nothing about the order affects the school districts in Texas or around the country who already have non-discrimination policies that are inclusive of transgender students,” she added. “And it doesn’t affect the rights of transgender kids and their families to continue to ask their schools for protection.”
The Obama administration issued its transgender guidelines earlier this year after the Justice Department sued North Carolina over its law that requires people to use the bathroom that corresponds with the sex on their birth certificate.
The full order can be read here.