Eleven states filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration on May 25, contesting its directive that schools should allow transgender students to use the restroom that matches their gender identity instead of their biological sex, or risk losing federal funds.
Texas, West Virginia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Utah and Maine hope that the Supreme Court will find the policy to be unlawful.
The thirty-two page lawsuit states that the Obama administration has “conspired to turn workplace and educational settings across the country into laboratories for massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights.”
The states maintain that Congress defines sex as biological and determined from birth, saying that it cannot be redefined to include gender identity. It also calls the directive unlawful and “contrary to constitutional right, power, privilege or immunity.”
Conservatives who support the lawsuit are worried about the safety of the students, suggesting that women and children need to be protected from sexual predators, and also cite conflicts with religious views and definitions of gender.
In a joint letter with the Department of Education, the Justice Department said that equating transgender people to predators is irrational and untrue; there is little to no statistical evidence of transgender individuals inciting violence in public restrooms. In fact, some believe that forcing such individuals to use a bathroom not matching their identity could expose them to harm. According to The Anti Violence Project, transgender women are 1.8 times more likely to experience sexual violence than non-transgender victims.
In support of its directive, the Obama administration cited Title IX, which disallows sexual discrimination at schools that receive federal funding.
The ongoing debate over the use of bathrooms in schools was sparked by a recent North Carolina law forcing transgender individuals to use the bathroom matching their biological sex assigned from birth rather than their gender identity.
The measure drew backlash from several companies and organizations including Target, Pepsi and PayPal. Government officials have made statements against the bill as well. Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake suspended all city-sponsored government travel to North Carolina in response, and many artists also canceled performances in the state, including Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas.