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Federal judge blocks Title IX protections for transgender students in four states

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Judge Terry A. Doughty said the rule goes against the original purpose of Title IX by protecting trans students, so he blocked its enforcement in Louisiana, Mississippi, Idaho, and Montana.

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A federal judge Thursday temporarily blocked the Biden Administration’s new Title IX rule banning anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in education in four states.

The Department of Education released the rule in April, and it is set to take effect August 1. It clarifies that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is unlawful sex discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Schools that don’t allow transgender and nonbinary students access to the restrooms or locker rooms of their choice or use their chosen pronouns would be committing illegal discrimination, as would those that don’t intervene in anti-LGBTQ+ bullying or harassment. The rule would also expand protections for students who are pregnant or parenting. The regulations would apply to any K-12 school, college, or university that receives federal funding.

But U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty, chief judge for the Western District of Louisiana, said the rule goes against the original purpose of Title IX. “Title IX was enacted for the protection of the discrimination of biological females. However, the Final Rule may likely cause biological females more discrimination than they had before Title IX was enacted,” he wrote, according to The Washington Post. “By allowing biological men who identify as a female into locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms, biological females risk invasion of privacy, embarrassment, and sexual assault.”

He found that those challenging the rule are likely to succeed, so he issued an injunction keeping it from being enforced while the lawsuit against it is heard.

The suit in question comes from Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, and Idaho, so his injunction applies in those four states. Twenty-six states in all have filed suit against the rule, and Doughty’s decision is the first in any of those cases. He was appointed to the federal judiciary by Donald Trump.

Earlier this week, a federal judge in Texas blocked an earlier action by the Biden administration — nonbinding guidelines issued in 2021 advising schools to apply an interpretation of Title IX that is similar to the one laid out in the April rule. His injunction applies only in Texas.

In 2022, a federal judge in Tennessee had blocked the 2021 guidance from being enforced in 20 other states that sued, but the injunction he issued is on hold while the Biden administration appeals.

In the latest case, Doughty’s ruling brought praise from those who filed the four-state challenge. “We are confident that other courts and states will soon follow,” Bob Eitel, president of the Defense of Freedom Institute, co-counsel to those states, told the Post.

LGBTQ+ activists denounced the decision. “Every student in Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana and Idaho deserves to be safe. Every young person deserves protection from bullying, misgendering, and abuse,” Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a press release. “Today’s decision prioritizes anti-LGBTQ+ hate over the safety and well-being of students in the state. This is MAGA theatrics with the dangerous goal of weaving discrimination into law. HRC will continue to mobilize communities and work to make sure that all students are protected under law.”

Education Department spokesperson Vanessa Harmoush told the Post the department is reviewing the ruling but believes the new regulations are valid and necessary. “We will continue to fight for every student,” she said.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.