GOP-Led States Sue Biden Administration Over Protections for Students, Workers

Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.
More than a dozen states are suing the Biden administration for enforcing LGBTQ workplace and school protections.
REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

More than a dozen US states are suing the Biden administration in response to directives aimed at protecting LGBTQ individuals in schools and the workplace.

Attorneys general from 20 states, led by Tennessee, alleged that the US Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission overstepped their authority in following the guidance issued by the Biden administration after the president signed an executive order asking federal agencies to broadly interpret sex discrimination laws following the Supreme Court decision last year in the Bostock case, which stipulated that ban on sex discrimination in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act includes sexual orientation and gender identity. The suit was filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

In June, the Department of Education followed up on Biden’s order by publishing a “Notice of Interpretation” in the Federal Register stating that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 applies to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. That month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also rolled out a fact sheet about LGBTQ workplace discrimination.

The states argued in the lawsuit that these decisions should be left up to the states, and in doing they continued to use offensive terms — such as “biological sex” — that disregarded the identities of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. The lawsuit pushes to keep sex-segregated facilities, including showers, locker rooms, bathrooms, residential facilities, school sports teams, and even dress codes, and argues in favor of skirting Title IX policies that require employees or students to use a transgender person’s correct pronouns.

“The guidance purports to resolve highly controversial and localized issues such as whether employers and schools may maintain sex-separated showers and locker rooms, whether schools must allow biological males to compete on female athletic teams, and whether individuals may be compelled to use another person’s preferred pronouns,” the lawsuit states. “But the agencies have no authority to resolve those sensitive questions, let alone to do so by executive fiat without providing any opportunity for public participation.”

Along with Tennessee, the other states in on the lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.

The lawsuit comes amid a wave of state-based anti-trans legislation in the US that aims to restrict transgender people from participating in school sports or use public accommodations such as bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

The Department of Justice declined to comment for this story.

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