A federal judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of a Biden administration directive that threatens schools with investigations for noncompliance with the Education Department’s Title IX guidance regarding students’ gender identity and sexual orientation.
District Judge Charles Atchley Jr., a Trump appointee, granted the preliminary injunction Friday, agreeing with the plaintiff states’ contention that enforcement of the guidance—which requires schools to permit transgender students to use the restrooms and join the sports teams that align with their gender identity—would hinder the individual states’ abilities to enforce their laws on the matter.
“At a minimum, Defendants’ guidance appears to deem conduct required by Plaintiffs’ state laws to be unlawful sex discrimination under federal law,” the judge noted. “Plaintiffs cannot continue regulating pursuant to their state laws while simultaneously complying with Defendants’ guidance.”
The plaintiff states also argued that the Biden administration’s guidance currently injures them as they are facing a potential loss of federal funding due to the conflict between said guidance and their current laws.
Atchley agreed, holding, “As it currently stands, plaintiffs must choose between the threat of legal consequences — enforcement action, civil penalties, and the withholding of federal funding — or altering their state laws to ensure compliance with the guidance and avoid such adverse action.”
Plaintiffs in the case include twenty states, of which Oklahoma is one. In response to the judge’s order, Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor released a statement.
“The federal district court ruling out of Tennessee is a major victory for women’s sports and for the privacy and safety of girls and women in their school bathrooms and locker rooms,” O’Connor said. “I am grateful the court ruled for Oklahoma and stopped the Biden Administration from enforcing its outrageous reading of Title IX, to include gender identity as a protected class. I will continue to hold President Biden accountable and do everything I can to uphold the rule of law.”
Last month, the Washington Times reported the Biden administration announced its intention to extend Title IX discrimination protections to include transgender students.
However, at least for now, it appears those plans will have to be put on hold as the current legal battle proceeds.