Georgia, 10 other states file lawsuit over guidance for transgender students

Georgia Republican leaders outraged over the Obama administration’s guidance for transgender students in U.S. public schools are making good on their promise to challenge the directive. Officials in 10 states, including Georgia, sued the federal government on Wednesday, arguing that it had no authority to direct the nation’s public school districts to permit students to use the restrooms that correspond with their gender identity, according to the New York Times.

The lawsuit, filed in a Federal District Court in North Texas, said the Obama administration had “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 common sense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights.”

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include nine states – Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin – as well as the governor of Maine, Paul R. LePage; the Arizona Department of Education; and school districts in Arizona and Texas.

Gov. Nathan Deal openly criticized Obama’s transgender directive four days after it was issued on May 13. Deal accused the Obama administration of “generating confusion and controversy.”

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, also not a fan of the directive, said the latest action regarding transgender students by the Obama administrations was “yet another example of executive overreach.”

Deal asked Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods to provide guidance to the 181 schools within the Georgia school system to ensure “as much uniformity across our state as possible.” It was more of the same from Woods as he remained defiant, insisting that he “would not let the federal government bully Georgia by threatening us with the removal of funds,” in an interview with WSB.

In e-mail to all school district superintendents, Woods expressed support for those in leadership who chose to defy the directive and went a step further by telling officials that they were “not required to comply.”

Woods wrote in his e-mail:

As this guidance does not have the force of law, you are not required to comply with this directive or make changes to your established actions and policies. However, if the federal government does decide to withhold federal funds, enforce this directive, or bring suit against any district in Georgia because of a decision a local district makes, we will work with all parties to take appropriate action.

Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality reacts to the lawsuit:

“This is a direct attack on hundreds of thousands of transgender students, who are already vulnerable to bullying and harassment, and their loved ones. It’s an attempt to say that transgender people are strangers to our nation’s laws, it’s an attack on Supreme Court precedent, and it dismisses practical guidelines that were requested by educators all over the nation and that have already been successful in thousands of school districts. This politically driven lawsuit is a sad waste of taxpayer money meant to stoke needless fears.”