Five Republican-led states sue over Biden’s new Title IX transgender protections

Five Republican-led states have sued the Biden administration over its new rules expanding Title IX — a federal civil rights law that protects students from sex-based discrimination in federally funded schools — to protect transgender students.

A handful of Republican officials in other states have publicly said they will not enforce the new rules but have stopped short of filing lawsuits.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, sued the Biden administration Monday to block the rules, which will, in part, prohibit schools from barring trans students and teachers from using the school facilities and pronouns that align with their gender identities, among other policies.

Paxton said the expanded rules mandate “compliance with radical gender ideology.”

“Texas will not allow Joe Biden to rewrite Title IX at whim, destroying legal protections for women in furtherance of his radical obsession with gender ideology,” Paxton said in a statement. “This attempt to subvert federal law is plainly illegal, undemocratic, and divorced from reality. Texas will always take the lead to oppose Biden’s extremist, destructive policies that put women at risk.”

Image: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images)

Image: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (Mandel Ngan / AFP – Getty Images)

Republican attorneys general in Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana and Idaho filed a separate lawsuit Monday arguing that the rule exceeds the Education Department’s authority, in part because it redefines sex to include gender identity.

“This is all for a political agenda, ignoring significant safety concerns for young women students in pre-schools, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities across Louisiana and the entire country,” Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill said in a statement.

The Education Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Top officials in Florida and Oklahoma announced that they would reject the rules.

“Florida rejects Joe Biden’s attempt to rewrite Title IX,” Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a video on social media. “We will not comply, and we will fight back.”

Ron DeSantis. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images file)

Ron DeSantis. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images file)

Ryan Walters, Oklahoma’s superintendent of public instruction, said at a news conference Thursday that the state is “pursuing all actions to oppose this illegal and unconstitutional move by the Biden administration.”

“We have already instructed our districts to not comply with this illegal rule change from President Biden,” Walters said. “We will not allow boys in girls’ restrooms. We will not let boys in girls’ sports.”

An increasing number of states have passed laws targeting transgender students. In recent years, half of states have passed measures that ban trans students from playing school sports on teams that align with their gender identities, and 10 states have prohibited trans school staff members and students from using bathrooms consistent with their gender identities in K-12 schools.

The new Title IX rules codify 2021 guidance from the Education Department that directed schools to interpret the federal law to protect LGBTQ students from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The guidance was a reversal of a Trump administration policy rolling back Obama-era guidance directing schools to allow trans students to use the school facilities that align with their gender identities.

In September 2021, 20 Republican-led states sued, and in July 2022 a federal judge temporarily blocked the Education Department from enforcing the guidance against those states.

The new guidance does not specifically address trans students’ participation in school sports, though Paxton and Walters were among the Republican officials who mentioned that issue in their statements. In April 2023, the Education Department proposed a rule that would change Title IX to bar blanket bans on trans students’ competing on sports teams that align with their gender identities, though the measure would permit some restrictions in more elite levels of sports competition, such as high school and college. The department previously planned to release that rule in March, but there have been multiple delays.

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