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Judge blocks Biden rules for transgender access to bathrooms, sports

President Joe Biden pauses as he delivers remarks on Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Services in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on July 8, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

A judge in Tennessee temporarily blocked the Biden administration’s rules ensuring transgender people at schools and workplaces have access to bathrooms, locker rooms and sports teams.

Mandates issued last year following an executive order by President Joe Biden clash with state laws restricting such access for transgender students and employees, U.S. District Judge Charles Atchley ruled Friday evening. The decision blocks the rules nationwide until the case is resolved.

Atchley, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, said a nationwide injunction against rules issued by the Education Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was warranted because of the “extraordinary circumstances” of the lawsuit.

The suit was filed by 20 states, including Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina and West Virginia. Some states have passed laws allowing students or teachers to sue school districts for allowing transgender students to use facilities aligning with their gender identity.

The Biden administration argued the rules were justified by the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark finding in Bostock v. Clayton County, which held that LGBTQ employees are protected from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The judge said the states are likely to prevail in the case because the rights created by the rules “appear nowhere in Bostock” or Title IX rules against discrimination in schools.

The ruling follows a wave of laws or bills seeking to restrict discussion of gender identity and sexuality in schools.

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor said in a statement that the ruling 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.”

“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,” O’Connor said.

The nonprofit Human Rights Campaign called the ruling “yet another example of far-right judges legislating from the bench.”

“Nothing in this decision can stop schools from treating students consistent with their gender identity,” Joni Madison, interim president of the HRC, said in the statement.

Neither the Education Department nor the EEOC immediately responded to requests for comment.


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