Texas AG sues Biden administration over Title IX rules that expand transgender student protections

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) on Monday sued the Biden administration over new federal nondiscrimination protections for transgender students.

The Education Department this month finalized a set of sweeping changes to Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools and education programs that receive federal funding, after more than a year of delays. The new regulations, which are slated to take effect Aug. 1, cover discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, a clause that has angered some conservatives.

“Texas will not allow Joe Biden to rewrite Title IX at whim, destroying legal protections for women in furtherance of his radical obsession with gender ideology,” Paxton said Monday in a news release announcing the lawsuit. “This attempt to subvert federal law is plainly illegal, undemocratic, and divorced from reality.”

The Education Department did not immediately return a request for comment.

The lawsuit, filed in the Amarillo Division of the Northern District of Texas, will almost certainly be heard by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who hears 95 percent of the cases filed in Amarillo. Kacsmaryk, the division’s only federal judge, has vocally opposed laws that protect LGBTQ people, including the Equality Act, which aims to make sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes.

Kacsmaryk in 2016 — before he was appointed to the federal bench by former President Trump in 2019 — filed a brief in support of the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia, which had been sued by a 16-year-old transgender boy after he was denied access to the boys’ restroom at his school. The student, Gavin Grimm, argued that the school discriminated against him in violation of Title IX.

Kacsmaryk in the brief, which was submitted on behalf of eight religious colleges and universities and nonprofit organizations, wrote that “the term ‘sex’ in Title IX must not be read to include gender identity.”

Paxton in Monday’s lawsuit called the Biden administration’s new Title IX regulations “vague” and “overbroad” and said they rely on a misunderstanding of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which found that employees are protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Biden administration has frequently used the landmark 2020 Supreme Court ruling as a foundation on which to build policies that strengthen federal protections for transgender people. A rule finalized Friday by the Health Department that bolsters the Affordable Care Act’s prohibition of sex discrimination also relies on the decision.

“The [final Title IX rule] wrongly equates discrimination on account of sexual orientation and gender identity with ‘sex’ discrimination,” Paxton wrote in Monday’s lawsuit, which was filed jointly with America First Legal.

Republican-led states across the country have pledged to reject the administration’s new Title IX rules, arguing that expanding the definition of sex discrimination to include gender identity will harm women and girls and punish individuals who refuse to use a transgender person’s chosen name or pronouns.

Louisiana also sued the administration on Monday over the new regulations, which the state’s Republican Attorney General Liz Murrill said “eviscerates Title IX.” Louisiana is joined by Montana, Idaho and Mississippi in filing the lawsuit, Murrill told reporters Monday.

All federally funded schools are obligated to comply with the final regulations as a condition of receiving government funds.

The Biden administration has yet to finalize a separate rule governing athletics eligibility. The proposal unveiled by the Education Department last April would prohibit schools from adopting policies that categorically ban transgender student-athletes from sports teams that match their gender identity.

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