Yesterday Mississippi announced that it would be joining 11 other states in their lawsuit against the Obama administration after it reminded states that federal law prohibits schools from discriminating against transgender students in public schools. The US Departments of Justice and Education issued joint guidance to federally funded schools across the country on May 13, reiterating them that under Title IX no school may discriminate against a student based on sex, including gender identity.
“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” said US Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch in a statement. “This guidance gives administrators, teachers and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies."
In response, certain states ran to court seeking a legal right to discriminate. On May 25, 11 states—Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin—filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Texas to challenge the government’s authority to protect transgender students’ civil rights. Mississippi is the latest state to join the crusade.
"Discrimination has no place in our public schools or in our laws," said AU Legal Director Richard B. Katskee. "Transgender students have the right to be safe, secure, and equally respected at school. That means having the same right as all other children to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. Americans United and its legal team stand ready to defend this important legal right for all our nation’s children. The attempt by states to shun transgender students or to treat them as second-class citizens cannot stand."
These 12 states and their allies from the Religious Right want to imperil the dignity of transgender students, who ask for little more than the right to exist. We’ll be working hard to help protect these students and enable them to go to school on the same terms as everyone else.
*Update: The Mississippi Attorney General says that he will not represent the state in this case. We'll see whether the state retains outside counsel in order to participate.