10 states sue Obama administration over transgender bathroom rules

© Lucy Nicholson
Ten more states are suing the Obama administration over rules requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use restrooms conforming to their gender identity, and not the sex listed on their birth certificate.

A total of 23 states have now sued the Obama administration over its orders announced in May for all public schools to let transgender students have access to the locker room or restroom of their choice.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said the Justice Department and Education Department have circumvented established law and the process for changing existing laws.

"It also supersedes local school districts' authority to address student issues on an individualized, professional and private basis," Peterson said in a written statement, according to Associated Press.

The lawsuit filed on Friday is being brought by the states of Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming. The suit argues the Obama administration’s directive was an overreach and a misinterpretation of Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette accused the Obama administration of "another ... federal overreach" that bypasses parents, schools and Congress.

"This lawsuit is about children and our schools," he said.

The Nebraska lawsuit hinges on the terms "sex" and "gender identity," saying federal law uses only the term "sex."

"Neither the text nor the legislative history of Title IX supports an interpretation of the term 'sex' as meaning anything other than one's sex as determined by anatomy and genetics," the lawsuit said.

On May 13, the Justice Department and Education Department said schools that forced transgender kids to use bathrooms matching their birth sex would be violating Title IX and could lose federal funding.

Vast sums of federal funding are at stake, and money could be withheld if schools do not comply with the federal government’s directive.

The administration’s directive was created after officials in Charlotte passed a sweeping anti-discrimination ordinance that included a provision for transgender students to use the restroom that corresponded to their gender identity. North Carolina state lawmakers passed a law nullifying the ordinance and others like it. The Justice Department accused the state of violating the federal Civil Rights Act and that the law could not be enforced.

The Obama administration has argued that transgender kids are already a vulnerable minority and that blocking them from bathrooms of their choice is discriminatory.

“We are talking about kids, and anybody who’s been in school, been in high school, who’s been a parent, I think should realize that kids who are sometimes in the minority – kids who have a different orientation or are transgender – are subject to a lot of bullying, potentially they are vulnerable,” President Barack Obama told BuzzFeed News.