A federal judge has blocked the mandate of the Obama Administration that local public schools must allow students to use the restrooms, locker rooms, and shower rooms of the opposite sex. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor issued a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of the bathroom mandate, and applied the scope of the injunction on a nationwide basis.
Judge Reed’s injunction was in response to a lawsuit filed by the State of Texas and 13 other states challenging the legality of the bathroom mandate. Texas Attorney General Kenneth Paxton had argued that the federal edict abolishing bathroom privacy in public schools has no basis in federal law or regulation.
The genesis of the dispute began in May with a bizarre press conference held by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. She announced that the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department and the Office of Civil Rights were issuing a joint edict regarding access to private facilities in public schools. Lynch said school administrators must allow any student to access the bathrooms, changing areas, and shower facilities of the opposite sex, or risk the loss of federal education funding.
Lynch brazenly proclaimed that Title IX of the federal Education Amendments of 1972 forbid discrimination based on “gender identity,” and that students must be permitted to use private facilities that “align” with their self-professed “gender identity.” Her announcement came on the heels of a similar “guidance” by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission threatening schools with legal action unless they implemented open bathroom policies.
Lynch decreed that schools cannot adopt “broad generalizations or “stereotypes” regarding a student’s “actual gender,” or create a “hostile environment” for gender-defiant students. The net effect of the edict is that boys have free license to invade the privacy of high school, middle school, and elementary school girls while they are using the bathroom, changing clothes, or taking a shower.
Judge O’Connor ruled that Title IX and its regulations contain indisputable language that authorizes schools to segregate private facilities based on a person’s biological sex. He rejected the baseless legal claims of the Obama Administration, saying that the language in the law banning discrimination based on sex has never been interpreted to encompass imaginary gender selection.
“It cannot be disputed that the plain meaning of the term ‘sex’ as it was enacted following passage of Title IX meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth,” Judge O’Connor wrote in his opinion. “The areas identified in the [Title IX] regulations are places where male and female students may have to expose their nude or partially nude body, and other private parts, and separation from members of the opposite sex was needed to ensure personal privacy.”
The judge also pointed out that “regulations permitting educational institutions to provide separate housing to male and female students, and separate educational instruction concerning human sexuality” were also designed to protect individual privacy.
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, hailed the judge’s action. “Judge O’Connor’s opinion is a win for parental rights and the privacy of schoolchildren nationwide. These federal agencies are attempting to use the bully pulpit to strip parents and local school districts of the right to provide a safe learning environment for their children.”
Perkins added that parents should mobilize in their communities against the bathroom mandate. “I encourage parents in every school district in America to demand that their local school boards not sacrifice the privacy and safety of their children because of this administration’s pursuit of political correctness.”
Matt Sharp, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, says that Judge O’Connor’s injunction is a welcome curb on federal overreach. “The Obama Administration cannot unilaterally disregard and redefine federal law to force girls to share locker rooms and showers with boys. Schools have a duty to protect the privacy, safety, and dignity of all students, and this order certainly helps them in fulfilling that duty.”
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of a ruling by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia. In that case, a three-judge panel ruled that Title IX “requires schools to provide ‘transgender’ access to restrooms congruent with their gender identity,” as opposed to what the court described as their “so-called biological sex.”
The 4th Circuit case involves a girl from the Gloucester County School District who claims to identity as a male. She says that she suffers “psychological distress” when she uses the girls’ restroom. Her lawsuit challenges a school district policy that students use the bathroom appropriate to their gender or a single-stall unisex bathroom.
The action by the U.S. Supreme Court delays enforcement of the 4th Circuit decision in that circuit until the Supreme Court has an opportunity to hear or reject a formal appeal of the decision. The Gloucester County School District is preparing an appeal of the 4th Circuit ruling.