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Federal Court Blocks Title IX Rule Directed At Gender Identity Discrimination

A Trump-appointed Louisiana judge issued a preliminary injunction that stops the U.S. Dept. of Education from enforcing its newest Title IX rule. The expanded rule bars schools and colleges that receive federal funding from discriminating against students based on gender identity or sexual orientation. The department issued the Title IX clarifying rule following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that sex-based discrimination under Title VII prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. When interpreting Title IX, federal courts often look to Title VII cases for guidance.

With this first preliminary injunction in effect, four states (Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, and Idaho) do not have to comply with the new rule. The judge agreed with the four states that Congress did not expressly empower the department to enact the new rule, which he asserted was "inconsistent with the text, structure, and purpose of Title IX." Another federal judge issued a second preliminary injunction for Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. This judge asserted the department "fail[ed] to provide a reasoned explanation for departing from its longstanding interpretation regarding the meaning of sex" and accused the department of lacking good answers to questions posed during the public comment phase.

Several states ban transgender students from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity and restrict the use of different pronouns and names (requiring parental permission or prohibiting teachers from using them). The regulation changes would cause institutions following the rules in those states to violate Title IX. Some of these states have participated in the lawsuits to stop the new rule.