Eleven states sued the Obama Administration on 25 May over the government's directive to school districts nationwide regarding transgender students' access to bathrooms and locker rooms. Texas filed the federal court lawsuit and was joined by Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
"It represents just the latest example of the current administration's attempt to accomplish by executive fiat what they couldn't accomplish democratically in Congress," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said during a news conference in Austin. "Texas will continue to stand up to President Obama and his agencies whenever and wherever they attempt to circumvent the rule of law and ignore the voice of the people."
According to The Washington Post, the federal lawsuit, which was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, argues the directive "has no basis in law" and could potentially cause "seismic changes in the operations of the nation's school districts."
The lawsuit follows a letter from the Obama Administration released earlier this month from the Justice Department and Education Department calling on school districts to allow transgender students use the bathroom and locker rooms of the gender they identify with. Although the directive is not legally binding, the guidance does threaten school systems with potential lawsuits and withdraw of federal funding.
"There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex," US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement when the letter was released. "This guidance gives administrators, teachers, and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies."
The administration is using the guidance to declare protections for transgender students under Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programmes and activities, POLITICO reported.
The directive comes on the heels of a heated battle with North Carolina after the state passed House Bill 2, which prohibited transgender people from using bathrooms not corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate. Several states now accuse the Obama Administration of overreach.
The lawsuit is the latest wave of backlash against the order. On 18 May, Mississippi State Superintendent Cary Wright was forced to backtrack the department's support of the federal policy following intense pressure from Republican state leaders. Several top Republican leaders in the state called on Wright to reverse the department's decision or to resign.
According to The Washington Post, federal officials said they still have to review the suit. "While the department will review the complaint, the federal government has strong legal foundations to uphold the civil rights of transgender Americans," the Justice Department said in a statement.
This is not the first time Texas has lead a lawsuit against the federal government. Texas, along with 25 other states, sued the Obama Administration over the president's executive action regarding undocumented immigrants. Oral arguments on that case were heard by the Supreme Court in April.