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A coalition of 20 Republican US states have filed a lawsuit against Joe Biden’s administration, calling for the reversal of discrimination protections for LGBT+ students and workers.
In June 2020, the US Supreme Court court ruled in Bostock v Clayton County that existing provisions under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, known as Title VII, which outlaws discrimination based on sex, also apply to cases where “an employer fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender”.
A year later, in June 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – a division of the US government to enforce civil rights laws against workplace discrimination – released guidance on what constitutes discrimination in workplaces.
The guidance declared that Title VII allows trans employees to use the bathrooms of their choice, and gives them the right to dress in a way that is consistent with their gender.
During the same month, the US Department of Education announced that following the Supreme Court ruling, the same concept should be applied to queer school students.
It issued a Notice of Interpretation stating that Title IX, a civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally-funded education, also protects LGBT+ students from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, including allowing them to use the bathroom of their choice and compete in the correct sports teams for their gender.
Now, 20 US states, all Republican-led, have joined together to sue the Biden administration, seeking to strike down these protections.
Tennessee attorney general Herbert Slatery led Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia as plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the US Department of Education, the US Department of Justice and the EEOC.
The 20 US states are calling for the right to practice anti-LGBT+ discrimination and misgender trans kids
The states are arguing that the Bostock v Clayton County Supreme Court ruling did not extend to single-sex areas of workplaces, and that the EEOC did not have authority to say that it did.
They also argue that the decision in Bostock cannot be applied to Title IX, because “the texts of Title VII and Title IX are materially different”.
The lawsuit states: “The guidance purports to resolve highly controversial and localised issues such as whether employers and schools may maintain sex-separated showers and locker rooms, whether schools must allow biological males to compete on female athletic teams, and whether individuals may be compelled to use another person’s preferred pronouns.
“But the agencies have no authority to resolve those sensitive questions, let alone to do so by executive fiat without providing any opportunity for public participation.”
The Biden administration’s education policy allows for federally-funded school to be handed financial sanctions if they fail to protect LGBT+ students from discrimination.
According to Reuters, Tennessee attorney general Slatery said in a statement: “All of this, together with the threat of withholding educational funding in the midst of a pandemic, warrants this lawsuit.”