A total of 21 Republican state attorneys general have united in opposition to president Joe Biden’s new civil rights protections for the LGBT+ community.
A letter written by Tennessee attorney general Herbert Slatery III and signed by 20 others accuses Biden of “imposing unlawful regulatory guidance” on employers and educators by forcing them not to discriminate against LGBT+ people.
They refer to Biden’s executive order that requires all federal agencies to abide by the Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling in Bostock v Clayton County, which found that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The AGs had expected they’d be offered “the opportunity to engage” in the implementation of this ruling. “Instead, the states and other affected institutions and individuals have been excluded from any discussion,” they complain. “We write this letter to state our objections.”
The objections from the signatories centre on transgender people’s access to restrooms and changing rooms, both in the workplace and in schools, and use of their preferred pronouns.
An EEOC document issued in June states that employees should have access to the facilities designated for the gender with which they identify and should be subject to the dress codes for that gender as well.
The document also says that “intentionally and repeatedly using the wrong name and pronouns to refer to a transgender employee could contribute to an unlawful hostile work environment,” although an isolated instance of accident misuse likely would not.
According to the AGs, “the Court in Bostock narrowly addressed employment termination and explicitly refrained from addressing ‘sex-segregated bathrooms, locker rooms, and dress codes.”
They claim the Supreme Court ruling didn’t actually provide basis for a claim that using “biologically accurate pronouns” could violate the law, and say the department of education’s language is “vague enough to leave significant questions unanswered but menacing enough to coerce many schools into quick capitulation.”
The Biden administration has not yet publicly responded to the letter, but has previously indicated it intends to defend the Bostock ruling to the hilt.