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A Swarm of Criticism for Texas' Transgender-Restroom Lawsuit

Texas is getting an earful from civil-rights advocates over its lawsuit challenging recent federal guidance to schools on the restroom rights of transgender students. (faull/iStockphoto)
Texas is getting an earful from civil-rights advocates over its lawsuit challenging recent federal guidance to schools on the restroom rights of transgender students. (faull/iStockphoto)
May 27, 2016

AUSTIN, Texas - Texas officials are seeing a firestorm of criticism over their lawsuit against the Obama administration's guidance on how schools should treat transgender students.

Texas, joined by 10 other mostly "red" states, wants to overturn a Justice Department determination that transgender students should be allowed to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Dan Quinn, communications director for the Texas Freedom Network, described the lawsuit as nothing more than political theater.

"This is another example of our state's top elected officials playing politics with people's lives," he said. "These are already vulnerable kids who simply want to be able to use the restroom without being harassed and bullied."

In announcing the suit, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton dismissed the civil rights issue, calling the regulation an "unconstitutional overreach by the federal government." The U.S. Justice Department issued the guideline after North Carolina passed a law restricting transgender people to the restroom matching the gender on their birth certificate.

Quinn said the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that someone cannot sue an agency just because they disagree with that agency's guidance, and that an agency's guidance only can be challenged through a contested legal case.

"This action by the administration was a guidance for local school districts on how to make sure they treat all of their students fairly and equally," he said. "So, it's kind of hard to imagine here what legal objection the attorney general actually has to this."

Quinn said Titles VII and IX of the Civil Rights Act prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, adding that federal courts already have ruled that the law includes protections for gay and transgender people.

The text of the lawsuit is online at texasattorneygeneral.gov.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - TX