Twenty US states have launched a lawsuit against the Biden administration after the Department of Education (DOE) mandated that schools allow biological males to compete in girls’ school sports.
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery filed the lawsuit on Monday at the US district court in Knoxville.
The lawsuit also takes aim at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for guidance it released on LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace.
Slatery and the other 19 attorneys general are asking a judge to allow schools to separate showers, locker rooms and bathrooms based on ‘biological sex’ and release schools from needing to use a transgender person’s preferred pronouns. It asks for the same for places of employment.
They also want schools to have the freedom to separate school sports teams by ‘biological sex’ and for workplaces to be able to enforce dress codes based on the same.
‘All of this, together with the threat of withholding educational funding in the midst of a pandemic, warrants this lawsuit,’ Slatery argued in a statement.
The lawsuit was filed by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, who released a statement calling the DOE and EEOC’s guidelines on transgender students and employees ‘new, expansive, and unlawful interpretations of federal antidiscrimination laws’
The lawsuit argues the DOE and EEOC ‘have no authority to resolve those sensitive questions, let alone to do so by executive fiat without providing any opportunity for public participation.’
Under the Biden administration, federal agencies have dramatically expanded protections for transgender Americans
It claims the two agencies are ‘flouting procedural requirements in their rush to overreach.’
‘This case is about two federal agencies changing law, which is Congress’ exclusive prerogative,’ Slatery wrote in the statement. ‘The agencies simply do not have that authority. But that has not stopped them from trying.’
Under President Joe Biden in June, the DOE announced that discrimination based on a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity will be regarded as a violation of Title IX, a federal law that protects against sex discrimination in education.
Schools that violate Title IX risk losing or delaying their federal funding.
It based its logic on Bostock v. Clayton County, a landmark Supreme Court ruling which in June 2020 decided that workplace protections on the basis of sex under Title VII also extends to discrimination based on sexual orientation.
A DOE legal analysis concluded there is ‘no persuasive or well-founded basis’ to treat education differently from employment.
Bloomfield High School transgender athlete Terry Miller, second from left, wins the final of the 55-meter dash over transgender athlete Andraya Yearwood, far left, and other runners in the Connecticut girls Class S indoor track meet at Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Connecticut in February 2019
Also in June, the EEOC released guidance about what could constitute discrimination against LGBTQ people and advised the public about how to file a complaint.
But the lawsuit argues those issues are ‘highly controversial and localized issues’ and asserts that the agencies’ mandates violate the 10th amendment which gives powers not explicitly relegated to the federal government over to states.
Slatery accused the Biden administration of misconstruing Bostock v. Clayton County ‘by claiming its prohibition of discrimination applies to locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms under Title IX and Title VII and biological men who identify as women competing in women’s sports, when the Supreme Court specifically said it was not deciding those issues in Bostock.’
Joining Tennessee in the lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia.
All but three of the above are Republican-led states.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona (left) and Attorney General Merrick Garland (right) were named as defendants in the 20 states’ lawsuit
The governors of Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia have all passed measures specifically restricting transgender girls from competing on girls’ school sports teams
In Kansas, Democratic Governor Laura Kelly vetoed a GOP bill banning transgender girls from participating in school sports.
A number of top Biden officials are named as defendants in the suit, including Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and US Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The federal government’s guidance on transgender students comes after numerous governors signed bills to restrict transgender individuals from competing on sports teams that aren’t for their biological sex.
The governors of Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia have all passed measures specifically restricting transgender girls from competing on girls’ school sports teams.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a blanket ban on transgender students participating in school sports up until grade 12.