Federal judge temporarily blocks Biden administration protections for LGBTQ workers, students
Lawsuit by 20 states claims the directives interfere with states’ rights
A federal judge in Tennessee has temporarily blocked directives from the Biden administration that aim to increase protections for LGBTQ employees and students.
U.S. District Judge Charles Atchley Jr. issued a temporary injunction in favor of 20 state attorneys general who sued last August, arguing the directives interfere with states’ rights to enact and enforce their own laws.
The injunction prevents federal agencies from enforcing the guidance until the issue can be settled by the courts.
The directives issued by the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission seek to protect students and employees from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. The guidance comes from the agencies’ interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX.
Atchley, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, wrote in agreement with the states’ attorneys general, saying the states have already seen harm caused to their sovereign power to enforce their legal codes, and the guidance puts “substantial pressure” on states to change their laws.
The lawsuit was brought by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slater, who was joined by Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.
The education policy proposed possible federal sanctions against schools that fail to protect LGBTQ students.
The guidance from the Biden administration comes after a landmark Supreme Court case in 2020 where the court ruled civil rights law protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in the workplace.
As of March, a record number LGBTQ-related bills have been introduced by state lawmakers with a majority impacting transgender people, according to NBC News.
Many of bills involve limiting transgender people from participating in sports and using bathrooms that align with their gender identity, limit access to gender-confirmation health care and carve out religious exemptions for anti-discrimination laws regarding LGBTQ people.
In Utah, state legislators passed HB11 which keeps transgender girls from competing on girls’ athletics teams at public schools.
The ACLU of Utah and other groups have filed a lawsuit against the Utah High School Activities Association and school districts on behalf of three transgender girls alleging the law violates their rights under the Utah Constitution.