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Federal judge blocks Biden administration’s Title IX guidelines to protect LGBTQ+ students


Federal judge blocks Biden administration’s Title IX guidelines to protect LGBTQ+ students

Jun 12, 2024 | 12:20 pm ET
By Juan Salinas II
Federal judge blocks Biden administration move to expand Title IX protections for LGBTQ students
A protester waves a transgender pride flag during a protest at the University of North Texas in Denton on March 23, 2022. (Emil Lippe for The Texas Tribune)

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A Texas federal judge blocked guidelines the Biden administration issued three years ago intended to extend federal anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ+ students.

In his ruling Tuesday, Judge Reed O'Connor said the Biden administration lacked the authority to make the changes and accused it of pushing “an agenda wholly divorced from the text, structure, and contemporary context of Title IX.” Title IX is the 1972 law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in educational settings.

“To allow [the Biden administration’s] unlawful action to stand would be to functionally rewrite Title IX in a way that shockingly transforms American education and usurps a major question from Congress,” wrote O’Connor, a President George W. Bush appointee. “That is not how our democratic system functions.”

The ruling pertains to guidance the Biden administration issued in 2021, which sought to extend Title IX’s protections. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued to block the guidance last year, calling it an overreach.

“Threatening to withhold education funding by forcing states to accept ‘transgender’ policies that put women in danger was plainly illegal,” Paxton said in a statement applauding Tuesday’s ruling. “Texas has prevailed on behalf of the entire Nation.”

Tuesday’s ruling does not affect the implementation of new Title IX regulations the Biden administration issued in April, which will explicitly codify protections for LGBTQ+ students and outright ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The changes, which go into effect in August, would make schools and universities responsible for investigating a wider range of discrimination complaints.

On Thursday, a federal district judge temporarily blocked the implementation of the new regulations in Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana and Idaho. Schools and universities in other states will still be required to follow the regulations.

The new regulations came as several states, including Texas, have approved laws in recent years barring transgender student-athletes from participating in sports teams that correspond to their gender identity. The Biden administration hasn’t clarified whether the new rules would apply in those cases.

Texas and several other states have sued the Biden administration over the regulations. Carroll ISD also filed a separate suit challenging them. A month after they were released, Gov. Greg Abbott called on school districts and universities to ignore them.

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Correction, : A previous version of this story incorrectly characterized the ruling as related to Title IX regulations the Biden administration issued earlier this year. The ruling is related to Title IX guidance issued in 2021.