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Federal judge blocks Title IX protections for LGBTQ+ students in six more states

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The preliminary injunction affects Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

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A federal judge has blocked the Biden administration’s new LGBTQ-inclusive rule on Title IX from going into effect in six more states.

The injunction, issued Monday, comes just days after another judge blocked the rule 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.

Republican attorneys general in 26 states have sued over the rule. Many of them claim it’s an attack on women’s rights; advocates for LGBTQ+ equality, of course, disagree. But in his Monday order, Chief Judge Danny C. Reeves of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky agreed with those challenging the rule,. His preliminary injunction keeps the rule from being enforced in the six states in the lawsuit while their case is heard. They are likely to win the case, he said.

“There are two sexes: male and female,” he wrote in the order, which applies to Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. “More than fifty years ago, Congress recognized that girls and women were not receiving educational opportunities that were equal to those afforded to their male counterparts. It attempted to remedy this historical inequity through the passage of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, commonly known as Title IX. And for more than fifty years, educational institutions across the country risk losing federal funding if they fail to comply with the dictates of the statute.”

“This case concerns an attempt by the executive branch to dramatically alter the purpose and meaning of Title IX through rulemaking,” he continued. “But six states, an association of Christian educators, and one fifteen-year-old girl object. “As they correctly argue, the new rule contravenes the plain text of Title IX by redefining ‘sex’ to include gender identity, violates government employees’ First Amendment rights, and is the result of arbitrary and capricious rulemaking. If the new rule is allowed to take effect on August 1, 2024, all plaintiffs will suffer immediate and irreparable harm. Because the plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits of their claims, and the public interest and equities highly favor their position, the new rule will be enjoined, and its application stayed.”

Kentucky Attorney General Russell Coleman, who led the case with Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, issued a statement praising Reeves’s order. “As a parent and as Attorney General, I joined this effort to protect our women and girls from harm,” Coleman said. “Today’s ruling recognized the 50-plus years of educational opportunities Title IX has created for students and athletes. We’re grateful for the court’s ruling, and we will continue to fight the Biden Administration’s attempts to rip away protections to advance its political agenda.”

Actually, the administration’s rule doesn’t address athletics. The Department of Education has proposed a separate rule stating that overall exclusion of trans student athletes from competing under their gender identity is unlawful discrimination but allowing schools to exclude them in certain circumstances. This rule has not been finalized.

Last Thursday, U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty, chief judge for the Western District of Louisiana, blocked enforcement of the April Title IX rule in Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, and Idaho, which have filed their own lawsuit. “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. 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.”

Like Reeves, 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.

Meanwhile, in Utah, the state legislature will meet in special session Wednesday in an attempt to block enforcement of the rule there, The Salt Lake Tribunereports. It conflicts with a Utah law barring trans people, when in government buildings, from using restrooms and other single-sex facilities that don’t correspond to the gender they were assigned at birth. Under another state law, the Utah Constitutional Sovereignty Act, “lawmakers can pass a resolution declaring a federal action violates the U.S. Constitution,” the Tribune explains. “State officials would be directed to ignore or not comply with the federal mandate unless a court orders the state to comply.”

Last week, a federal judge in Texas blocked an earlier action by the Biden administration — the issuance of nonbinding guidelines 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.

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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.