Well, temporarily, anyway.
‘AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge in Texas has blocked the Obama administration’s order that requires public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity.
In a temporary injunction signed Sunday, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the federal education law known as Title IX “is not ambiguous” about sex being defined as “the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth.”
The judge said the order would apply nationwide. The ruling, he said, was not about the policy issues of transgender rights but about his conclusion that federal officials simply did not follow rules that required an opportunity for comment before such directives are issued.
“This case presents the difficult issue of balancing the protection of students’ rights and that of personal privacy … while ensuring that no student is unnecessarily marginalized while attending school,” he wrote.
The ruling was the second recent setback for transgender advocates. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Virginia school board can block for now a transgender male from using the boys’ restroom while justices decide whether to fully intervene.
Texas and 12 other states challenged the White House directive as unconstitutional.
The judge also sided with Republican state leaders who argued that schools should have been allowed to weigh in before the White House mandate was announced in May.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, had argued that halting the Obama order before school began was necessary because districts risked losing federal education dollars if they did not comply. Federal officials did not explicitly make that threat upon issuing the directive, although they also never ruled out the possibility.
“This president is attempting to rewrite the laws enacted by the elected representatives of the people and is threating to take away federal funding from schools to force them to conform,” Paxton said. “That cannot be allowed to continue, which is why we took action to protect states and school districts.”
The Justice Department issued a brief statement saying it was disappointed in the ruling and was reviewing its options. If the Obama administration challenges the injunction, the case would head next to the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.’