More States Are Suing Biden Admin Over Transgender Rules

Brendan Clarey | May 13, 2024

(Chalkboard News) — A recent lawsuit filed against the Biden administration says a Christian student in Arkansas who refuses to use a transgender person’s pronouns could face harm under the sweeping changes to the federal anti-discrimination law governing educational institutions.

A new lawsuit filed Tuesday by six state attorney generals on behalf of an Arkansas student athlete, asks a federal court to review the action taken by the Department of Education and stop the Title IX changes from going into effect as scheduled in August.

Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota filed the lawsuit on behalf of a minor child, called A.F., who is represented by her mother Sara Ford in United States District Court on Tuesday. They’re asking the court to issue an injunction and strike down the rulemaking. 

The lawsuit lists as defendants the Department of Education, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights at the agency’s Office of Civil Rights, and Randolph Wills, deputy assistant secretary for enforcement for the Office of Civil Rights.

The Department’s final rule expands the definition of sex discrimination to include gender and establishes protections for pregnant students. 

Attorneys general said in the lawsuit Tuesday that the six states they represent “will be forced to choose between enforcing their sports laws or running afoul of the Final Rule’s interpretation of sex discrimination.”

At least eight states have already filed lawsuits over the changes, which critics say is overly broad and encroaches on the rights of female students.

Tuesday’s lawsuit refers to the laws in each state that may conflict with the federal rulemaking, like Arkansas’s Given Name Act, which prohibits punishment for school employees and students who refuse to use the preferred name and pronouns of transgender students. 

Arkansas’s Given Name Act was enacted to protect the freedom of speech and expression of school faculty and students, and to protect the rights of parents, according to the lawsuit. North Dakota also has a law that says government entities can’t require employees to use someone’s preferred pronouns. 

The lawsuit contends that because the student attends and plays sports at a public high school in Arkansas that receives federal funds and is subject to Title IX, she will be harmed by the implementation of these rules. 

“If the Final Rule is allowed to go into effect, it will erase existing legal protections for female students and subject her to irreparable harms in numerous aspects of her school life,” the lawsuit reads. 

Specifically, that applies to the pronouns that the student may be asked or required to use under the new federal rules.

“She believes as a Christian that God created humans as immutably either male or female,” the lawsuit reads. “She does not use pronouns or titles inconsistent with a person’s sex and denies that a person’s belief that they are male or female, or desire to be a male or female, makes them male or female.”

The lawsuit says that the student fears punishment for expressing these views and invokes Arkansas’ Religious Viewpoint Antidiscrimination Act, which the lawsuit says prohibits schools from “discriminating against students’ expressions of religious viewpoints, even if other students are offended by that religious expression.” 

“If the Final Rule takes effect, A.F.’s school will be required to investigate and respond to instances of what the Final Rule defines as ‘sex-based’ harassment,” the lawsuit alleges. “This includes the use of sex-consistent pronouns that offend another student, as measured from that other student’s point of view.”

The lawsuit alleges that students could face actions because someone is offended by religious viewpoints. 

“A.F. will thus face potential investigation and sanctions by her school when she continues to refer to students using pronouns consistent with the student’s sex, refuses to affirm that other students’ professed gender identity determines whether they are in fact male or female, or even discusses her religious views regarding sex and gender in a manner that another student is offended by,” the lawsuit continues. 

The lawsuit also alleged that the changes to Title IX could require schools to allow male students into bathrooms, locker rooms and showers, which is currently prohibited by laws in Iowa, Arkansas, Nebraska and Iowa. 

“The Final Rule preempts these laws and would require schools to allow students to use multiple occupancy restrooms based on the student’s professed gender identity rather than the student’s sex,” the lawsuit reads.

Critics of these bathroom bills say they are harmful for transgender students because they ostracize them and require them to use facilities that do not align with their gender. The lawsuit argued state laws preventing transgender students help female students feel safe. 

The lawsuit also said that despite the Biden administration deferring to separate rulemaking for transgender participation in athletic teams, the changes “clearly prevents funding recipients from enforcing blanket policies restricting males from competing in female-designated sports teams and competitions.”

The attorneys general argue that the court should find the Final Rule unlawful under the Administrative Procedural Act, because it “contravenes Title IX’s text” by redefining biological sex, is arbitrary and capricious and is contrary to a constitutional right or power. 

“The Court can resolve this controversy by declaring that Title IX does not authorize the Department to condition receipt of Title IX funds on using gender identity, rather than sex, as the rubric for student participation in covered educational programs,” the lawsuit concludes. 

This article was made available to EdNews Virginia via Chalkboard News.