Paxton Sues Obama Over Transgender Rights

State officials continue their anti-trans crusade

Attorney General Ken Paxton
Attorney General Ken Paxton (Photo by John Anderson)

As part of their crusade to restrict LGBTQ rights, state officials are fighting back against a recent transgender-inclusive directive from the Obama administration.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Ken Paxton filed suit, along with 10 other states including Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee, against the federal call to allow transgender students to use the restroom facility that corresponds to their gender identity. The suit names the U.S. departments of Justice, Labor, Education, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The federal directive, meant to create a safe and supportive environment for LGBTQ youth, didn’t create a new legal rule, but it does mean that if schools don’t comply they could jeopardize federal education dollars. (Under Title IX, academic institutions can’t get federal dollars if they discriminate on the basis of gender.) Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick responded by saying he would rather forgo billions in federal funds than institute trans-inclusive policies. And today, his anti-LGBTQ ally Paxton has turned the rhetoric into a legal challenge.

“Defendants have conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights,” the 32-page suit reads. "Defendants’ rewriting of Title VII and Title IX is wholly incompatible with Congressional text. Absent action in Congress, the States, or local communities, Defendants cannot foist these radical changes on the nation.”

During an afternoon press conference, Paxton framed the suit as pushback against Obama’s overreach, saying the directive is “outside the bounds of the Constitution” and an “executive fiat” which couldn’t be accomplished by the democratic process in Congress. Tellingly, Paxton sidestepped answering whether or not he believed transgender students actually exist and was unable to point to any documented instances of sexual assault in restrooms by transgender students. The modest Harrold ISD, a named plaintiff in the suit, say they released their anti-trans guidelines Monday, coincidentally just two days before Texas filed suit. And Paxton's office, said Harrold's Superintendent David Thweatt, contacted them, not the other way around.

“Today's lawsuit filed by the State of Texas undermines federal protections for gay and transgender children. In particular, this suit punishes transgender students protected by Title IX and the U.S. Department of Education, and the attorney general will waste precious time and resources and millions of dollars to harm Texans who have done nothing wrong,” said LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Texas in a statement.

Paxton has promised to take the challenge all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

LGBTQ rights, Ken Paxton, LGBTQ, gender-neutral restrooms

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