Louisiana Sues Biden Administration Over Title IX Rules That Protect LGBTQ+ Students

Piper Hutchinson, Louisiana Illuminator

Louisiana’s Republican attorney general announced Monday the state is suing the Biden administration over new Title IX rules that aim to protect LGBTQ+ students. The updates to the federal law that forbids sex-based discrimination in education have been expanded to include gender identity and sexual orientation.

Gov. Jeff Landry, Attorney General Liz Murrill and  K-12 Education Superintendent Cade Brumley railed against the new rules during a press conference at the State Capitol, arguing the new federal guidance guts historical precedence from the landmark civil rights legislation.

Louisiana is joined in the lawsuit by Mississippi, Montana and Idaho. The plaintiffs seek an injunction to stop the new rules from taking effect and a temporary restraining order to block enforcement while the lawsuit plays out.

Opponents of the new Title IX rule, which the U.S. Department of Education released last week, argue that conflating gender identity with sex would gut Title IX protections and harm biological women. Gender identity refers to the gender that an individual identifies as, regardless of their sex assigned at birth.

“If you do protect biological women, you violate Title IX,” Murrill said at the press conference, describing the new guidelines as dangerous and unlawful.

Title IX paved the way for equal access for women in educational settings. The law itself is relatively brief, requiring  the executive branch to issue clarifications.

Brumley urged schools in Louisiana not to comply with the federal guidelines, although noncompliance with Title IX risks the loss of federal funding.

“I think it’s a challenge to both common sense and state sovereignty,” Brumley said, calling the rules “radical.”

“Biden’s radical provisions recklessly endanger children throughout the state of Louisiana and across the country,” Brumley said. “They seek to dismantle long-standing protections for equal opportunity for females and athletics, and they will create unnecessary bureaucracies

The lawsuit takes issues with portions of the rules that allow transgender students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity and prohibit schools from engaging in sex discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

“This protection applies with equal force to all students, including transgender and nonbinary students,” the rules say.

Murrill said the rules that aim to protect these students from sex discrimination, which could require using a transgender student’s preferrred pronouns, amounts to a First Amendment violation.

A transgender person is one who identifies as a gender different from their sex assigned at birth. They typically use pronouns that align with their identified gender.

“We’re not going to pretend there is some other kind of sexual category other than the two the great almighty has set forth,” Landry said.

“We have an obligation to make sure that those students are safe, but that doesn’t mean we have to deny that biological women are biological women,” Murrill added when asked to address the impact Biden’s rules would have on transgender youth.

Studies approximate 80% of transgender youth have considered suicide, and 40% report at least one suicide attempt.

Several other conservative states and organizations have announced lawsuits against the Biden administration over the Title IX changes.

The new rules supersede state legislation, including bills the Louisiana Legislature is considering that segregate bathrooms and locker rooms based on sex assigned as birth and those that restrict what names and pronouns students use in schools.

“We should all be enraged by the relentless assault on LGBTQ+ children orchestrated by Louisiana Republicans,” SarahJane Guidry, executive director of the LGBTQ+ rights organization Forum For Equality, said in a news release. “Gov. Landry, Attorney General Murrill and Superintendent Brumley have a callous disregard for the well-being and dignity of these vulnerable young individuals.

“They must be reminded that these are not just policies they’re attacking; they’re attacking human beings – our children – who deserve love, respect, and acceptance,” Guidry added.

Murrill and Landry also objected to the impact the new rules would have on athletics. The guidance does not directly address transgender athletes, which the Biden administration has said it intends to handle in a follow-up rule.

Landry mocked the idea of transgender identity to reporters.

“I would love to identify as Shaquille O’Neal, who I really admire,” Landry said. “However, I can’t go down to the LSU basketball men’s coach and say,’ Hey, I’m identifying today as Shaq and I want that scholarship’ … he would absolutely knock me off the court.”

Peyton Rose Michelle, executive director of Louisiana Trans Advocates, expressed disappointment in Landry’s comments.

“The Shaquille O’Neal comment just sounds like something that a high school or middle school bully would say to a trans kid… making fun of, trivializing their transition,” Michelle said.

Louisiana Illuminator is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Louisiana Illuminator maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Greg LaRose for questions: info@lailluminator.com. Follow Louisiana Illuminator on Facebook and Twitter.

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