The state of Texas filed a lawsuit Wednesday over the U.S. Department of Education's interpretation of Title IX protecting LGBTQ+ students, adding to the resistance promised by Republican leaders even before the administration proposed its new rule last June.
In its lawsuit, Texas' Office of the Attorney General says the Biden administration's interpretation of Title IX, a civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in education programs receiving federal funding, "seeks to radically transform educational institutions" by impacting "living facilities, locker rooms, and showers, in addition to bathrooms, at schools across the country."
Saying the administration's stance that Title IX protections cover sexual orientation and gender identity is a misinterpretation, the state seeks to stop LGBTQ+ protections under Title IX from being enforced in Texas.
The legal action adds to a slew of warnings and lawsuits from Republican leaders and states trying to halt the Education Department's protection of LGBTQ+ rights under Title IX, which they contend is federal overreach.
The challenges to the administration's pro-LGBTQ+ position pre-date the department's release of its Title IX proposal in June 2022. That proposed rule does, however, mirror the interpretation that Texas and many others have sued over.
In July 2022, a Tennessee judge temporarily blocked the department's Title IX enforcement after 20 other predominantly conservative states sued in 2021. Two months later, the U.S. Department of Justice said it intended to appeal that decision.
Prior to that, in April 2022, 15 Republican state attorneys general — including Texas’ Ken Paxton — urged the Education Department to scrap its Title IX rulemaking efforts and warned they were prepared to take legal action against the administration if necessary.
Resistance has multiplied since the proposal's release last year and the April release of the department's Title IX athletics proposal, which would prohibit schools from categorically banning transgender students on teams aligning with their gender identities.
About a month after the athletics proposal was announced, 25 state governors asked the department to withdraw or delay the regulation "until the U.S. Supreme Court can address the questions raised in several pending cases that are challenging this administration’s expanded reading of Title IX."
Eyes have been on the Supreme Court, which is expected to eventually take up a case on Title IX and LGBTQ+ protections. However, in 2021, it passed on a high-profile case that could have addressed the issue.
The hight court did, however, decide in 2020 on a related LGBTQ+ rights case, Bostock v. Clayton County, in which it extended federal employment law protections to LGBTQ+ workers.
That case was used by both the Trump and Biden administrations to bolster their starkly opposite policies on Title IX: Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos interpreted the case in a way that excluded LGBTQ+ students, while Education Secretary Miguel Cardona relied on the Supreme Court's decision in setting the Biden administration’s LGBTQ+ inclusive Title IX policy.
The administration’s two regulatory proposals — the broader Title IX policy protecting LGBTQ+ students and the athletic proposal on transgender student participation — are expected to be finalized in October after a five-month delay from the administration's original timetable.