Texas, Other States to Ask Judge to Halt Obama's Transgender Bathroom Policy

Image: A sign protesting a North Carolina law restricting transgender bathroom access is seen in the bathroom stalls
A sign protesting a North Carolina law restricting transgender bathroom access is seen in the bathroom stalls at a hotel in Durham, North Carolina on May 3, 2016.JONATHAN DRAKE / Reuters
By Erik Ortiz

Texas and 12 other states will ask a federal judge Friday to halt the Obama administration's plan allowing transgender students to use school bathrooms based on their gender identity.

The hearing in Fort Worth is the latest in the battle between the federal government, led by the Justice and Education departments, and the various states that are trying to block the policy change.

The White House told every public school district in May that they must allow transgender students to use bathrooms consistent with their chosen gender identity or risk losing federal funding.

States immediately filed a joint lawsuit to push back against the requirement.

"We will not yield to blackmail from the president of the United States," Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said at the time.

"This goes against the values of so many people," he added. "This has everything to do with keeping the federal government out of local issues."

The other states involved are Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. All have Republican governors except for Louisiana and West Virginia, both led by Democrats.

Meanwhile, other states last month launched a similar suit to stop the new bathroom policy in public schools. They are: Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming. All have Republican governors except for Montana.

The Obama administration's bathroom announcement came days after the Justice Department sued North Carolina over its controversial law that requires people in the state to only use restrooms in government buildings and public schools that correspond with their gender at birth.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement that there is "no room in our schools" for discrimination.

Meanwhile, in what could be a setback for the pro-Obama bathroom policy movement, the U.S. Supreme Court last week agreed to put on hold a federal judge's order that would have allowed a Virginia high school student who was born female but identifies as male to use the boys' restroom.

The local school board in Gloucester County had forced the high school to stop accommodating him after angry parents spoke out at two community meetings.

The school board has said it will ask the Supreme Court in late August to overturn a lower court's decision that would serve as a victory for transgender students. The court would not act on that request until October at the earliest.