The transgender bathroom battle is about to take another dramatic turn.
Texas and 10 other states are suing the Obama administration over a new directive allowing transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms in public schools that are in line with their gender identity.
The lawsuit, announced Wednesday in Austin by Texas Attorney General Kenneth Paxton, also includes Oklahoma, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maine, Arizona, Louisiana, Utah and Georgia. It accuses President Obama’s administration of “running roughshod over commonsense policies” that protect children, and asks a judge to declare the directive unlawful.
Conservative states had vowed defiance since the Justice Department handed down the guidance earlier this month. At the time, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said “there is no room in our schools for discrimination.”
The Department of Education ordered schools to create policies to grant bathroom access to transgender students in accordance with their identities or risk losing billions in federal funding. According to The Associated Press, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has previously said Texas is willing to forfeit $10 billion in federal education dollars rather than comply.
Abbott confirmed the lawsuit Wednesday morning at a book signing hours before Paxton formally announced the challenge.
“His lawsuit is challenging the way that the Obama administration is trampling the United States Constitution,” Abbott told reporters.
The issue of transgender usage of bathrooms exploded on the national scene in the wake of House Bill 2 in North Carolina, which became law on March 23. It bans transgender people from using bathrooms that don’t match the gender on their birth certificate. North Carolina and the Justice Department then sued each other over the law, opening the door for the directive.
Supporters of transgender bathroom bills say such measures are needed to protect women and children from sexual predators, while the Justice Department and others argue the threat is practically nonexistent and the law discriminatory.
Several key Republican lawmakers in Texas, including Abbott, Paxton and Patrick, have been outspoken in their opposition to the directive and to the issue of transgender-identity bathroom use.
The lawsuit marks latest volley in the ongoing fight from Texas Republicans against the federal government.
According to a July 2015 report from the Texas Tribune, Texas Republicans have filed suit against the federal government 38 times since President Obama took office at a cost of $5.1 million to Texas taxpayers.
The Texas Tribune reported that in those cases, Texas has won six, lost 10, the state withdrew eight cases, and 14 were still to be fully litigated.
SOURCE: The Associated Press