11 States Sue Over Transgender Bathrooms

     HOUSTON (CN) — Texas and 10 other states sued the Obama administration Wednesday, challenging its mandate that public schools let transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms that “match their chosen ‘gender identity.'”
     Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the lawsuit Wednesday at a press conference in Austin.
     The lawsuit is in response to a May 13 directive from the Obama administration, ordering all schools that receive federal funds to classify students based on the gender they identify with, regardless of what is listed on their birth certificates and school records.
     Obama’s mandate came four days after the Justice Department and North Carolina filed dueling lawsuits over a new state law that restricts transgender people to using public bathrooms and showers that match the gender on their birth certificates.
     It’s unclear whether states that don’t comply with the directive will lose their federal education funding, but Texas officials said they’re willing to take that risk to avoid having transgender men in the same bathrooms as their daughters, wives and mothers.
     Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said May 13 the state is willing to forfeit its $10 billion in federal education funding if the Obama administration holds Texas to the new directive.
     Patrick made headlines early this month when he called for the firing of Fort Worth Independent School District superintendent Kent Scribner for a policy directing the district’s teachers to let transgender students use the bathroom of their choice.
     “Defendants have conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights,” Texas claims in the lawsuit.
     The states claim the Obama administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act by not putting the directive through a public notice-and-comment period required for all new federal rules.
     Texas made the same argument in its challenge of executive orders the Department of Homeland Security issued on immigration in November 2014 that sought to defer deportation for millions of law-abiding undocumented immigrants in the face of limited resources to remove them.
     Texas also claims the transgender directive is an exercise of power that’s reserved to Congress, another argument it made in the immigration litigation that might be resolved by a U.S. Supreme Court decision expected in late June.
     In addition, the states allege the new rule tramples state sovereignty in violation of the 10th Amendment.
     They want the order vacated and an injunction to stop the administration from implementing the rule.
     The plaintiffs include Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, Georgia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Paul LePage, the Republican governor of Maine, the Arizona Department of Education and two schools districts, one in Arizona, the other Texas.
     In announcing the directive, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch framed North Carolina’s transgender law and its ilk as the new battleground for civil rights in the United States, comparing the measure to racial segregation and discrimination against same-sex couples.
     Texas AG Ken Paxton portrayed Texas as a target of an out-of-control federal government in a statement about the lawsuit.
     “Our local schools are now in the crosshairs of the Obama Administration, which maintains it will punish those schools who do not comply with its orders. These schools are facing the potential loss of school funding for simply following common sense policies that protect their students,” he said.
     Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich also told the administration to stay of his state’s school bathrooms and locker rooms.
     “President Obama has no business setting locker room and restroom policies for our schools. Deciding how to protect our children and preserve their privacy, while balancing these complicated issues, is best done locally and not by some one-size-fits-all decree from Washington,” Brnovich said in a statement.

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