AUSTIN (ChurchMilitant.com) - A multi-state challenge to the Obama administration's mandate demanding that public schools allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice is making its appearance in federal court.
A federal judge is scheduled to hear a petition Friday from a coalition of 12 states to suspend the May directive from the Departments of Justice and Education, which declares: "A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so."
Plaintiffs of Friday's court case, filed in May by the state of Texas, include Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah and Georgia, in addition to the governors of Kentucky, Mississippi and Maine. The states and governors have also been joined by school districts in Arizona and Texas.
The decision at stake is a preliminary injunction from U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor from Fort Worth, which would effectively freeze the implementation of the Obama directive, allowing school districts to begin the upcoming school year without fear of reprisal for noncompliance. Though penalties are not explicitly noted in the May federal order, the text suggest the possibility of a loss of federal funding for those school districts that refuse to observe the directions. The majority of school districts in the various states receive millions of dollars annually from the federal government.
The 12 states in question are part of a total of 23 currently engaged in legal battles with the federal government over the directive. A suit filed last month in a Nebraskan federal court added Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming to the list of those opposed to what has been labeled a "blatant and baseless overreach."
The declaration from the Obama administration came days after the federal government filed a lawsuit against North Carolina for the state's controversial House Bill 2 (HB2) law forbidding transgender individuals from utilizing public restrooms apart from those that correspond with their true gender; in response, the state sued the Obama administration for what Gov. Pat McCrory called "an attempt to unilaterally rewrite long-established federal civil rights laws."
Attorneys representing the Obama administration asserted in a release the directive was "not legally binding," but the clarification has not stopped the states from continuing their crusade against the mandate.
Friday's court decision comes a week after the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a Virginia school district's petition to halt the implementation of a lower court ruling demanding the school permit a girl pretending to be a boy to use the male restrooms and locker rooms.
The district had contended the application of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling at the beginning of the upcoming school year would be "[d]epriving parents of any say over whether their children should be exposed to members of the opposite biological sex, possibly in a state of full or complete undress, in intimate settings." This, the petition stated, "deprives parents of their right to direct the education and upbringing of their children."