Austin: Texas and 10 other states are suing the Obama administration over its directive to US public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.
The lawsuit, announced Wednesday, accuses the Obama administration of “running roughshod over common sense policies” that protect children. It includes Oklahoma, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maine, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah and Georgia.
The challenge, which asks a judge to declare the directive unlawful, follows a federal directive to US schools this month to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.
Some conservative states have vowed defiance, calling the directive a threat to safety even while being accused of discrimination by supporters of transgender rights. US Attorney General Loretta Lynch has said, “there is no room in our schools for discrimination.”
Texas’ lieutenant governor has previously said the state is willing to forfeit $10 billion in federal education dollars rather than comply.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott confirmed the lawsuit at a book signing hours before the state’s Republican attorney general was scheduled to formally announce the challenge at a news conference today.
“His lawsuit is challenging the way that the Obama administration is trampling the United States Constitution,” Abbott told reporters.
The directive from the US Justice and Education Departments represents an escalation in the fast-moving dispute over what is becoming the civil rights issue of the day.
The guidance was issued after the Justice Department and North Carolina sued each other over a state law that requires transgender people to use the public bathroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate. The law applies to schools and many other places.
Supporters say such measures are needed to protect women and children from sexual predators, while the Justice Department and others argue the threat is practically nonexistent and the law, discriminatory.
Texas was a likely candidate to rush to the courthouse over this directive first.
Abbott had sued the Obama administration more than two dozen times when he was attorney general, a pace that his successor, Republican Ken Paxton, has kept up since taking office last year.