11 States Seek Lawsuit Against Obama Administration Over Bathroom Laws

A sign protesting a recent North Carolina law restricting transgender bathroom access is seen in the bathroom stalls at the 21C Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina May 3, 2016.   REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

A sign protesting a recent North Carolina law restricting transgender bathroom access in a restroom at the 21C Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina, May 3rd 2016 | Reuters/Jonathan Drake

Eleven different states are filing a lawsuit against the Obama Administration over a directive that requires schools to allow students to use the restrooms that accurately correspond to their gender identities. The lawsuit argues that the regulation “has no basis in law” and could cause dramatic, negative changes in schools’ operations. States jointly filing the federal lawsuit include Texas, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maine, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, and Georgia.

Earlier this month, two federal administrations issued a letter in response to some of the controversy that has sprung up around the “bathroom issue.” The federal agencies who released the letter, the Justice Department and the Department of Education, said they were releasing the statement as a response to some of the questions and concerns schools have posed.

“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “This guidance gives administrators, teachers, and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies.” The two federal agencies are citing Title IX, which disallows sexual discrimination at institutions that receive public funding, in their response.

Texas, however, is not so quick to be soothed. The state’s governor, Greg Abbott, announced this week that Texas’ Attorney General, Ken Paxton, would be challenging the federal mandate for school restroom use. It is unclear what that challenge will look like or if it will make its way up to a higher court as of yet, but Abbott, himself a former attorney general, has made and overseen previous lawsuits against the Obama Administration. Currently, Texas is waiting on a decision from the Supreme Court regarding the administration’s actions on immigration.

Paxton has accused the presidential administration of “bullying Texas schools into allowing men to have open access to girls in bathrooms.”

It does not seem, however, that the administration is willing to budge on the issue. “This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them.”

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