Texas’ transgender lawsuit again pits ‘red’ states against Obama

UPDATE – 5:02 p.m. EST: The Louisville Courier-Journal is reporting that the Commonwealth of Kentucky will join in the lawsuit brought by the state of Texas against the Obama Administration for its directive that public schools must accommodate students that identify as transgender.

While state attorney generals typically have the responsibility of filing federal lawsuits, newly elected Republican Gov. Matt Bevin spearheaded the effort after Democratic state Attorney General Andy Beshear failed to act.

“Unfortunately . . . Andy Beshear is unwilling to protect Kentucky’s control over local issues,” Bevin said. “Therefore, my administration will do so by joining this lawsuit. We are committed to protecting the 10th Amendment and fighting federal overreach into state and local issues.”

Beshear reacted with a statement of his own: “The Office of the Attorney General has been closely reviewing this matter. On the day the federal government issued its guidance, the governor stated he was researching legal options. I expected to be consulted on those options, but my office has not received a single phone call from the governor or his attorneys on this matter . . . Sadly, this is another example of the governor’s office playing politics instead of trying to work with us.”

 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit in district court Wednesday challenging the constitutionality of the Obama Administration’s directive to allow transgender students in public schools use the bathroom of their choice.

At least nine other states — Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Utah — the governor of Maine and three school districts in Arizona and Texas, have or will join the lawsuit.

The directive was issued on May 13 in the form of “joint guidance” by the departments of Justice and Education, citing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program”.

Specifically, the directive instructs public schools that when they are informed of a student’s transgender status, the individual must be treated as the sex he or she identifies with.

In addition to bathroom access, the guidance also includes preferred treatment in regards to athletic participation and other gender-specific scholastic activities.

If states do not comply with the instructions, they risk losing federal education grants.  In response, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said previous to the lawsuit’s announcement that the Lone Star State would be willing to forgo $10 billion in funding before complying with the Obama Administration’s directive.

AG Paxton said Harrold Independent School District in Wilbarger Co., TX, which joined in the lawsuit, has “fulfilled a responsibility to their community and adopted a bathroom policy (that) puts the safety of their students first.”

Opponents of the federal guidance may argue that bathroom safety policies put in place by states like North Carolina and local schools throughout the country will have to be overturned, in violation of the Tenth Amendment. 

In a social justice vein, conversely, President Obama sees the preferred treatment of transgender students as a moral responsibility of the government.

“I think that is part of our obligation as a society to make sure that everybody is treated fairly, and our kids are loved, and protected, and their dignity is affirmed,” Obama said last week.

Since taking office in 2009, the state of Texas has sued President Obama’s administration more than 30 times.

 

[CNN] [USA Today] [AP] [Photo courtesy YouTube/The Young Turks]