Judge blocks Biden’s administrative guidelines on transgender athletes and restrooms

FILE PHOTO: A gender-neutral bathroom is seen at the University of California, Irvine in Irvine, California September 30, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

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July 16 (Reuters) – A federal judge in Tennessee has temporarily blocked Biden administration guidelines allowing transgender workers and students to use bathrooms and locker rooms and join sports teams that match their gender identity .

Judge Charles Atchley Jr. of the Eastern District of Tennessee ruled Friday that the administration’s guidelines would prevent some states from enforcing their own laws on transgender athletes’ participation in women’s sports and bathroom access.

A coalition of 20 Republican attorneys general filed a lawsuit last year against the federal government, noting they risk losing significant federal funding because the Biden guidelines conflict with their own state laws.

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Atchley agreed with this, writing in his order that states “cannot continue to regulate in accordance with their national laws while simultaneously complying with defendants’ guidelines.”

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor, one of the plaintiffs, said in a written statement on Saturday that Atchley’s order “is a major victory for women’s sports and for privacy and security. girls and women in the toilets and changing rooms of their schools”.

The Department of Justice, Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are named as defendants in the lawsuit. None immediately responded to requests for comment on Saturday. The three had previously asked Atchley to dismiss the States lawsuit, a request the judge denied in his decision on Friday.

The coalition of Republican states argued that the Biden administration’s guidelines inappropriately extended a 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that extended anti-discrimination protections to transgender workers.

Bostock Magistrates’ Court v. Clayton County said employers cannot fire workers because of their gender identity or sexuality. The judges expressly declined to decide whether the ruling applied to gender-segregated bathrooms and changing rooms.

The Bostock Supreme Court held that the prohibition of sex discrimination in the workplace in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extended to prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity .

The Department of Education, in guidance issued last year, concluded that because Title IX, which prohibits gender bias in federally funded educational programs, borrows language from Title VII, Bostock also applied to schools.

The department said, for example, that preventing a transgender high school student from using the girls’ bathroom or trying to be on the girls’ cheerleading squad would violate Title IX.

On Friday, Atchley agreed with the States, writing in his decision that the Bostock Supreme Court “explicitly declined to decide whether ‘gender-segregated bathrooms, changing rooms and dress codes’ violate Title VII.”

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Reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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