SCOTUS ruling complicates trans efforts

By: Regina Wright ~Campus News Editor~

A federal ruling in the lawsuit against the Obama administration and U.S. Department of Education has resulted in an injunction temporarily blocking transgender students from using bathrooms and other facilities of their choice.

The case, in which 13 states seud the federal government, was heard by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas. The states suing are Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

O’Connor passed the injunction late on Aug. 21, a day before the first day of school in Texas, the following day. In his 38- page order, O’Connor explains his judgment, stating the U.S. Department of Education has exceeded its authority in regard to the Educational Amendments of 1972.

The 1972 law, containing the creation of Title IX sex-discrimination protections, states, “facilities provided for students of one sex shall be comparable to such facilities provided for students of the other sex.”

“It cannot be disputed that the plain meaning of the term sex… meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth,” O’Connor 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.”

The injunction applies nationwide and can now be used in several lawsuits throughout the nation against the Department of Education, schools and states themselves.

Fifty-one families are suing Township High School District 211, and federal agencies in Northwestern Illinois after the school followed transgender mandates and allowed a transgender student to utilize whichever facility with which he or she identified with. Students involved in the lawsuit argue their personal privacy rights are being invaded on.

“This case presents the difficult issue of balancing the protection of students’ rights and that of personal privacy when using school bathrooms, locker rooms, showers and other intimate facilities, while ensuring that no student is unnecessarily marginalized while attending school,” O’Connor wrote.

“The ruling could potentially deter the U.S. Department of Education from bringing new legal action against schools that do not allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice,” Kate Lawson, Chief Title IX Officer said.

“The ultimate impact of the decision is unclear at this time. We’ll learn more as it moves through the legal system. It’s important to note that this is a ruling by a single judge in one circuit. Other courts across the country have agreed with the Obama administration that transgender students are protected by Title IX, and these decisions are not altered by the Texas ruling.”

Uncertainties and clarification are expected to be made by the U.S. Supreme Court case Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester High School. The high school is being sued for adopting a discriminatory policy towards transgender students by preventing them from using the bathroom of their choice.

The Supreme Court voted 5-3 earlier in August, to issue a temporary stay of a ruling to keep the case on track to allowing transgender students to use whichever bathroom they preferred.

“As these issues evolve, Xavier will continue moving forward in our efforts to address the key areas of the May 13, 2016 letter entitled ‘Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students’(DCL) jointly released by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice,” Lawson continued.

“We will continue our efforts to implement the DCL and to ensure we foster an inclusive campus for students who identify as transgender.”