10 States Sue The Obama Administration Over Transgender Bathroom Rules

Upset by the Obama administration’s requirement that public schools across the country allow students to use the bathrooms of their choice, 10 states sued the federal government over transgender bathrooms Friday. The lawsuit was filed in a Nebraska federal court, with Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming signing on in solidarity. In May, 11 different states sued the feds over the exact same thing in a Texas court, but nothing has come of that lawsuit yet. So overall, 21 states have now taken legal action opposing transgender students’ right to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.

In a directive sent to U.S. public schools in May, President Obama, along with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice, ordered school administrators to allow students to use whichever bathroom matches their gender identity. “When a school provides sex-segregated activities and facilities, transgender students must be allowed to participate in such activities and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity,” the letter says, citing Title IX, the law forbidding discrimination based on sex. The letter was a direct response to North Carolina’s battle with the Justice Department over the state’s discriminatory law that forces transgender residents to use public restrooms for the gender they were assigned at birth.

Aside from refusing to acknowledge transgender people’s rights, the states’ main reasoning for fighting the directive is because they say it oversteps the Department of Education and Department of Justice’s authority. The lawsuit also claims that federal law’s use of the term “sex” doesn’t include gender identity. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said in a press release Friday regarding the new lawsuit:

“The recent action by these two federal agencies to require showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms be open to both sexes based solely on the student’s choice, circumvents this established law by ignoring the appropriate legislative process necessary to change such a law. It also supersedes local school districts’ authority to address student issues on an individualized, professional and private basis. When a federal agency takes such unilateral action in an attempt to change the meaning of established law, it leaves state and local authorities with no other option than to pursue legal clarity in federal court in order to enforce the rule of law.”

The feds have threatened to withhold federal money from schools that don’t comply with its inclusive regulations, meaning 21 states could lose out on a lot of much-needed funds.