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A federal judge has blocked a directive from President Joe Biden’s administration that allowed transgender workers and students to use school restrooms that match their gender identities.
It also enabled transgender athletes to join sports teams that match their chosen gender.
The directive was blocked by Judge Charles Atchley Jr. of the Eastern District of Tennessee, a Trump appointee, after a coalition of 20 Republican attorney generals filed a lawsuit last year, Reuters reported.
The plaintiffs argued that the federal directive violated state laws and prevented states from enforcing their own laws banning the use of transgender school bathrooms.
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Judge Atchley agreed, saying that in his opinion states “cannot continue to regulate under their state laws while at the same time complying with defendants’ guidelines,” Reuters reported.
The states also argued that the Justice Department of the Biden administration, the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — the defendants in the case — falsely justified the bathroom directive by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton. County.
In the case, Clayton County fired county employee Gerald Bostock for “unbecoming” behavior after participating in a gay recreational softball league. The Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that gender discrimination in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 must extend to sexual orientation and gender identity.
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The Supreme Court said in its decision that they did not rule whether “sex-separated bathrooms, locker rooms and dress codes” violate Title VII.
In 2021, after President Biden was sworn in and appointed new leadership, the Department of Education issued guidelines to apply the 2020 case to schools.
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The department suggested that the court’s decision should be applied to gender-segregated bathrooms, but Judge Atchley disagreed.
The Bostock Supreme Court “expressly declined to rule whether ‘sex-separated bathrooms, changing rooms and dress codes’ violate Title VII,” the judge said in his opinion, Reuters reported.
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Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor, who was one of the plaintiffs, called the decision “a major victory for women’s sports and for the privacy and safety of girls and women in their school bathrooms and locker rooms,” the report said.