The transgender bathroom battle in the United States is clearly still raging. Despite the fact that President Obama's administration recently issued an order to American public school districts compelling them to allow students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity, over a dozen U.S. states are fighting the edict. On Friday, Texas and a dozen additional states took their case to a federal judge, asking him to issue a stay of the order prior to the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year.U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor heard arguments from Texas' legal representatives, as well as those from 12 other states. Austin Nimocks, one of the lawyers representing Texas, called President Obama's transgender bathroom order "overly broad," adding that individual school districts should have the authority to determine transgender bathroom use policies for themselves, and that they should be allowed to do so without fear of reprisal from the federal government.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, the total of 13 states opposed to Obama's May transgender bathroom order have formed a "coalition" to fight against its implementation within their borders. The lines in the American transgender bathroom battle have clearly been drawn.Attorney Nimocks told the federal court that he and the State of Texas, his client, are seeking a ruling from the court as soon as possible. The new school year is about to begin in Texas, and the state and its school districts are trying to avoid ambiguity regarding their authority as well as the potential lawsuits that could result from being forced to put President Obama's transgender bathroom guidelines into effect.
"The new rules usurp the authority of local school districts."As the new transgender bathroom policy stands with regard to public schools in the United States, individual states risk the loss of federal education funding if they refuse to comply with the Obama administration's most recent order in the transgender bathroom battle. According to a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice, before any state would be in jeopardy of losing federal money over a failure to abide by the order, that state would have plenty of time to defend itself legally. In fact, it is because each state in the U.S. has a legal right to fight the loss of federal education funding and because no state has yet been financially harmed by the new transgender bathroom regulations that the Justice Department says that Texas and the other states have no case.
Because no losses or harm has yet been suffered, a Justice Department lawyer believes that there are no grounds for a postponement of the new transgender bathroom policy in Texas or any other U.S. state.
"Regardless of the existence of the guidelines…the plaintiffs suffer no harm in the interim."While the U.S. Department of Justice seemed confident that it would ultimately win the transgender bathroom battle, at least during the federal court hearing, Texas and the rest of the states fighting desperately to control transgender bathroom rules in their own schools and within their own borders may actually have a legal leg to stand on. Indeed, it's possible that a recent Supreme Court decision may have set just the precedent individual states need in order to retain their sovereignty in the transgender bathroom battle. Early in August, the SCOTUS issued a temporary ruling that will block a transgender Virginia student from using the restroom he identifies with while attending his public high school. While the U.S. Supreme Court's decision is only temporary, intended to give Virginia officials the opportunity to prepare an appeal against a lower-court ruling that would have allowed the transgender student to use the bathroom of his choice, it may be an indication that the U.S. court system could be open to leaving transgender bathroom battles to the individual states.
Judge O'Connor, during the Friday transgender bathroom battle hearing, pondered out loud regarding whether Texas and the other plaintiff states in the case were indeed facing an immediate threat due to the Obama administration's transgender bathroom order. According to the judge, it is possible that being forced to change their transgender bathroom policies quickly could constitute a "threat."
"These guys say 'I'm going to have to change my bathrooms, change my signs."According to Department of Justice legal counsel, the idea that the Obama administration's transgender bathroom order could constitute a threat is absurd. In fact, no school is under any obligation to make a change to their bathroom policy unless a student files a complain. If that were to happen, an investigation into the issue would ensue. If the hypothetical complaint resulted in the discovery that the school's transgender bathroom policy was discriminatory, then (and only then) would the school have an obligation to make changes.
So far, the judge in the Texas transgender bathroom battle case hasn't indicated when he will make a decision in the case or even if he will be ruling on it at all.
What do you think? Should the U.S. have a uniform transgender bathroom policy in place to protect students in all 50 states? Should individual states or even school districts have the authority to draft their own transgender bathroom rules? Where do you stand when it comes to the transgender bathroom battle?
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