FORT WORTH, Texas — A federal judge has placed a preliminary injunction on a controversial directive from the Obama administration that required public school districts to allow male students who identify as female to use the girls’ restroom and vice versa.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor determined that the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice had not followed the proper channels in issuing the nationwide guidance, and suggested that the departments’ interpretation of federal law was incorrect.
“It cannot be disputed that the plain meaning of the term sex … following passage of Title IX meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth,” he wrote.
“Without question, permitting educational institutions to provide separate housing to male and female students, and separate educational instruction concerning human sexuality, was to protect students’ personal privacy, or discussion of their personal privacy, while in the presence of members of the opposite biological sex.”
As previously reported, over 20 states sued the Obama administration over its guidelines requiring schools to accommodate students’ “gender identity” under threat of losing their federal funding.
“A school may provide separate facilities on the basis of sex, but must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity,” the May directive from the Department of Education and the Department of Justice read. “A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so.”
“As a condition of receiving federal funds, a school agrees that it will not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently on the basis of sex any person in its educational programs or activities unless expressly authorized to do so under Title IX or its implementing regulations,” it warned.
But Judge O’Connor, nominated to the bench by then-President George W. Bush, determined on Sunday that the departments failed to obtain public comment on the issue before drafting the guidelines as required under the law. He also opined that the Congressional intent of Title IX had nothing to do with gender identity.
O’Connor ordered the parties to “maintain the status quo,” thus halting the Obama administration’s directives as being unenforceable while the matter moves forward in court.
“We are pleased that the court ruled against the Obama administration’s latest illegal federal overreach,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement following the ruling. “This president is attempting to rewrite the laws enacted by the elected representatives of the people, and is threatening to take away federal funding from schools to force them to conform.”
“That cannot be allowed to continue, which is why we took action to protect states and school districts, who are charged under state law to establish a safe and disciplined environment conducive to student learning,” he said.
U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson told reporters that the administration is disappointed in the ruling and is reviewing their options, as an appeal of the injunction may be filed.