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Judge blocks Biden's rule protecting LGBTQ students in four states

President Joe Biden and Secretary of the Department of Education Miguel Cardona seen listening during a meeting at White House in October 2022. On Thursday, a federal judge enjoined them from enforcing a new rule in four states that aimed at protecting LGBTQ students. File Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI
President Joe Biden and Secretary of the Department of Education Miguel Cardona seen listening during a meeting at White House in October 2022. On Thursday, a federal judge enjoined them from enforcing a new rule in four states that aimed at protecting LGBTQ students. File Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo

June 14 (UPI) -- A federal judge has temporarily blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a new rule in four states that protect LGBTQ students from discrimination in schools.

The new rule was issued by the Department of Education on April 29 to amend definitions to Title IX, which prohibits discrimination in education programs and activities on the basis of sex, to redefine sex discrimination to include gender identity and sexual orientation.

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The result would give students access to bathrooms and locker rooms that reflect their gender identity while preventing schools from requiring documentation to validate which gender they choose to present themselves as.

The rule was swiftly met with opposition from conservatives and Republicans, with the far-right Defense of Freedom Institute filing a lawsuit that same day accusing the new rule of unlawfully contradicting Title IX.

On Thursday, Western District of Louisiana Chief Judge Terry Doughty sided with the plaintiffs, enjoining the Education Department from enforcing the rule in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana and Idaho.

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In his ruling, Doughty, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, described that administrative agencies' circumvention of Congress to enact the rule as an "abuse of power" and "a threat to democracy."

"Enacting the changes in the Final Rule would subvert the original purpose of Title IX: protecting biological females from discrimination," he said.

"[B]y allowing biological men who identify as a female into locker rooms, showers and bathrooms, biological females risk invasion of privacy, embarrassment and sexual assault."

Doughty continued that the Department of Education failed to consider several factors when drafting the rule, including leaving out guidance for addressing non-binary or gender-fluid students while prohibiting schools from enacting "common-sense rules to make sure the person who changed identities is sincere."

They also failed to consider that biological males and females have different body parts as well as culture norms against exposing one's naked body to the opposite sex.

"Keeping the status quo is necessary in light of a serious question of whether defendants had Congressional authority to enact the final rule," he said.

The DFI said Thursday it was "pleased" with the court's decision.

"When President [Joe] Biden's Department of Education issued its Title IX regulations last April, we at DFI pledged that we would fight back, and we did by filing the first-in-the-nation lawsuit to stop the regulations," DFI President and Co-founder Bob Eitel, who was senior counselor to former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during the Trump administration, said in a statement.

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The rule, which is to go into effect Aug. 1, faces challenges by a total 26 states in eight additional cases.

Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ political lobbying group in the United States, lamented the Doughty's decision as prioritizing "anti-LGBTQ+ hate over the safety and well-being of students."

"This is MAGA theatrics with the dangerous goal of weaving discrimination into law. HRC will continue to mobilize communities and work to make sure that all students are protected under law," Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson said in a statement.

MAGA is the acronym for the far-right Make America Great Again nativist political movement, made popular by Trump.

The Department of Education said in a statement that it is reviewing the ruling.

"Title IX guarantees that no person experience sex discrimination in a federally funded educational environment," the department spokesperson said.

"The Department stands by the final Title IX regulations released in April 2024, and we will continue to fight for every student."

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