FRIDAY: Federal Court Hears Arguments in Texas Case Seeking to Roll Back Transgender ProtectionsBy Adam Polaski • August 10, 2016 • 5:58 pm
On Friday, August 12 in a federal court in Fort Worth, Texas at 10:30am, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor will hear arguments in State of Texas v. United States, a shameful lawsuit seeking to roll back protections for transgender Americans.
The lawsuit, filed by the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and officials from several other states – including Alabama, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, Georgia, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Maine – challenges the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. For several years now, several federal agencies (the Department of Justice, the Department of Education, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Health & Human Services) have interpreted Title VII and Title IX’s prohibitions on “sex discrimination” to include discrimination based on gender identity.
The most recent high-profile announcement was guidance from the Department of Education in early May 2016 that public schools should respect students’ gender identity for the purpose of using the restroom or electing which sex-segregated facility to use. The guidance – similar to other guidance routinely provided by the Departments of Education and Justice on issues under federal law – simply ensures that all students, including those who are transgender, can learn and succeed in school without fear of bullying, harassment or isolation.
The hearing in Texas v. United States on Friday seeks to block “enforcement” of the May 2016 guidance – but beyond that, it also seeks to block federal agencies overall from regarding anti-transgender discrimination as what it is: discrimination.
When Texas v. United States was filed in June, Freedom for All Americans Education Fund’s Chief Program Officer Kasey Suffredini said:
“Every single student, no matter who they are, deserves to BE safe and respected in school. The DOE’s guidance ensures that all students can go about their day without fear of harassment, isolation or bullying. It is reprehensible that some elected officials seek to malign and single out transgender students for harm. We should be sending a message to all youth, including transgender youth, that we support them and that we have their backs. This lawsuit sends the exact opposite message.”
Transgender Americans, like all of us, deserve dignity and respect while going to work, focusing on an education, or seeking to take care of friends and family. No court ruling negates the constitutional right to equal treatment under the law for all Americans, including transgender people. Transgender people make valuable contributions to society, and like everyone else, they should be treated fairly in all areas of life.
Freedom for All Americans Education Fund is working with our state and national partners, including legal organizations dedicated to pushing forward on LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination protections in the courts, to spread the word about this shameful lawsuit and speak out about these relentless attacks on transgender Americans.
The many moving pieces in the courts and multiple lawsuits – including this one, various cases in North Carolina and Mississippi, and other cases across the country – underscore a critical need to ensure that transgender protections are permanently codified into state and federal law. Protection from discrimination is too foundational and important a value to leave to the discretion of individual judges or jurisdictions. States must continue to work to update their own nondiscrimination laws to include transgender people and make those protections permanent through statute.