WICHITA FALLS, Texas (Christian Examiner) – A U.S. district judge in Texas has issued a preliminary nationwide injunction on the implementation of federal guidelines that squeeze transgender rights into the Civil Rights Act and mandate transgenders' access to the bathroom and locker room of their choice in public schools.
On Sunday, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor issued a 38-page ruling claiming the federal government's interpretation of Title IX is wrong and the expansion of the definition of "sex" to include anything other than the two anatomical or biological categories of male and female is abuse of the statute.
In May, the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice issued a joint statement from Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Secretary of Education John King Jr. which said that schools – in order to receive federal funding – must avoid "discrimination" of any students based on sex, "including a student's transgender status."
For example, the federal "guidance" claims schools may not require students to have a medical diagnosis before allowing them access to an opposite-sex facility, require them to undergo medical treatment or even require them to produce a birth certificate before allowing them access "consistent with their gender identity."
Thirteen states, represented by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, rejected the federal guidelines and sued the government in the Northern District of Texas.
Following the ruling, Paxton said in a statement the court had "ruled against the Obama administration's latest illegal federal overreach."
"The 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," Paxton said.
O'Connor's ruling is an example of what scholars call "originalism" – or the belief that the language of laws should be interpreted according to what the words and concepts meant at the time the people's representatives passed the law.
In this case, the 1972 Education Amendments to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 said female athletes and students should be given comparable locker room and restroom facilities to their male peers. Male and female were defined biologically.
O'Connor said permitting the definition of sex to be redefined would create new regulations that carried the weight of law and were "compulsory in nature." Non-compliance with the new interpretation would mean the states risk the loss of federal funding, but at the same time they would suffer "irreparable harm" by not enforcing the law as original written by Congress.
Gay rights organizations reacted angrily to the judge's injunction.
Five of the groups – the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU of Texas, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Transgender Law Center and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) – issued a joint statement saying a "ruling by a single judge cannot and does not undo the years of clear legal precedent nationwide establishing that transgender students have the right to go to school without being singled out for discrimination."
The groups also called the injunction "unfortunate and premature," even telling school districts that "your obligations under the law have not changed, and you are still not only allowed but required to treat transgender students fairly."
The Department of Justice also said it was disappointed in the court's decision and reviewing its options. That means the case will likely be headed further up the legal chain and possibly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The high court has already temporarily blocked a Virginia student who was born a girl from using the boy's restroom at school.
Last year, the ACLU argued that "Gavin" Grimm, 17, should be allowed to use the boy's restroom even though "he" was born female. The Gloucester County School Board disagreed, and the student and the leftist advocacy group sued shortly thereafter.
In a brief order Aug. 3, the Supreme Court said the district could, in fact, refuse to allow the female student access to the male restroom while the case was on appeal.