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Court Blocks Obama's Transgender Bathroom Rules

President Barack Obama's transgender bathroom directive is on hold -- for now.

In May, the president issued a new directive instructing public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds to their preferred gender, or make all bathrooms available to all students.

About a dozen states sued the federal government in response, arguing that the plan turns schools "into laboratories for a massive social experiment," reports NPR.

On Aug. 22, a federal court in Texas put Obama's plan on hold, blocking federal officials from enforcing the directive until the lawsuits are settled in court, reports The Associated Press.

The plaintiffs -- including the states of Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Utah and Wyoming, among others -- argued that Obama's directive is "coercive" because of the way it's tied in to Title IX, the federal law that banning sex discrimination in public schools.

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor agreed with the states, calling the directive "compulsory in nature" because of the implicit threat that school districts could lose their federal funding if they don't go along with Obama's order. Many school districts depend on federal funds to help bridge budget gaps and keep student programming intact.

Arguing that the definition of "sex" in Title IX "meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth," O'Connor said the president sough to establish a "radical re-authoring" of the term, NPR reported.

In his 38-page ruling, the judge also questioned whether the federal government can create such a directive. Obama's directive, O'Connor wrote, puts school districts “in the position of either maintaining their current policies in the face of the federal government’s view that they are violating the law, or changing them to comply with the guidelines and cede their authority over this issue," The New York Times reported.

Plaintiffs and others who opposed Obama's directive praised the judge's decision.

“We are pleased that the court ruled against the Obama administration’s latest illegal federal overreach,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote in a statement. “This president is attempting to rewrite the laws enacted by the elected representatives of the people, and is threatening to take away federal funding from schools to force them to conform.”

But the battle over bathrooms in public schools isn't over, a coalition of civil rights groups said. That group includes the ACLU, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Transgender rights, among others.

“A ruling by a single judge in one circuit," they wrote, "cannot and does not undo the years of clear legal precedent nationwide establishing that transgender students have the right to go to school without being singled out for discrimination."

Sources: NPR, The New York Times, AP, The Attorney General of Texas / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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