Twenty states have been temporarily spared the Biden Administration’s attempt to force transgender ideology on the nation’s schools and businesses. A federal judge in Tennessee, in response to a lawsuit filed last year by the attorneys general of those 20 states, has issued a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The judge’s order blocks the effect of the agencies’ “interpretation” and “technical guidance” documents imposing such rules as men competing in women’s sports, schools and businesses mandating preferred pronouns, and men being allowed to use restrooms, showers and locker facilities reserved for women.
The new rules would have applied to Christian schools as well, and several of them are represented in the case by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs commented on the court victory in Tennessee in a press release.
“Girls involved in sports deserve the opportunity to compete on a safe and fair playing field against other female athletes. The court was right to find that the Biden administration exceeded its authority in issuing orders that jeopardize fair play,” Scruggs said.
“The Biden administration’s radical push to redefine sex in federal law—and without the required public comment period—threatens to erase women’s sports and eliminate the opportunities for women that Title IX was intended to protect. We are pleased that female athletes will be protected in 20 states while this lawsuit moves forward,” he added.
The controversy’s origins lie in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which interpreted federal employment nondiscrimination law – known as Title VII – to prohibit adverse treatment of homosexual and transgender employees in the workplace.
Although the Bostock ruling was limited in scope, in 2021 the Biden Administration sought to expand upon its reasoning to impose radical gender ideology requirements on schools and businesses. The DOE and EEOC both claimed that Bostock made it necessary for them to do so. If allowed, their actions would result in requiring: the use of preferred pronouns in schools and businesses; schools to allow men who believe they are women to compete on women’s athletic teams; and businesses and schools to allow men to use women’s restrooms, shower facilities and locker rooms.
U.S. District Judge Charles E. Atchley, Jr., rejected the government’s argument that Bostock required the imposition of gender ideology on schools and businesses.
“Defendants ignore the limited reach of Bostock,” the judge wrote in his order. “The Bostock decision only addressed sex discrimination under Title VII; the Supreme Court expressly declined to ‘prejudge’ how its holding would apply to ‘other federal or state laws that prohibit sex discrimination’ such as Title IX.”
When administrative agencies want to create binding rules, they are required by Congress under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to follow “notice and comment” procedures and other requirements.
However, the DOE and EEOC argued in this case that their “interpretive” documents were non-binding explanations of existing law and didn’t break any new legal ground. The judge didn’t buy it.
Because the DOE and EEOC attempted to impose new rules on schools and businesses, the judge said, they had failed to follow the proper rules as imposed by Congress.
“Plaintiffs can establish that Defendants’ challenged guidance documents are legislative rules that create new rights and obligations, and Defendants do not contend that they complied with the APA’s notice and comment requirements,” Judge Atchley wrote.
The 20 states benefitting from the judge’s order include: Tennessee, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.
The case is Tennessee v. U.S. Dept. of Education.
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