Twenty state attorneys general are suing to stop the Biden administration from enforcing new federal guidance on transgender student rights, which they argue is unlawful and stepping over congressional and state authority.
The group filed a lawsuit Monday in a Tennessee federal court against the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which they say are attempting to resolve highly controversial and localized issues.
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III says the federal guidance dictates whether “schools must allow biological males to compete on girls’ sports teams, whether employers and schools may maintain sex-separated showers and locker rooms, and whether individuals may be compelled to use another person’s preferred pronouns.”
The lawsuit, he said, seeks to prevent the federal entities from usurping congressional and state authority and to eliminate “nationwide confusion and upheaval” caused by the guidance.
Top officials in the two agencies are listed as defendants, as well as the Department of Justice, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke.
In the 38-page complaint, the attorneys general argue the guidance does not adhere to the Administrative Procedure Act and that it stems from a misconstrued interpretation of the Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County.
They said the agencies wrongfully claim that the ruling, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, applies to school locker rooms, showers and bathrooms and “biological men who identify as women competing in women’s sports.”
The high court, they said, specifically said it was not deciding those issues in the case.
“All of this, together with the threat of withholding educational funding in the midst of a pandemic, warrants this lawsuit,” Mr. Slatery said. “The agencies simply do not have that authority. But that has not stopped them from trying.”
The coalition wants a judge to declare that the guidance is invalid and to prohibit its enforcement.
Tennessee has implemented about a half-dozen new laws since March that involve transgender individuals and biological women.
The complaint also includes attorneys general from: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.
• Emily Zantow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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