Politics

Gov. Matt Bevin is praising a federal judge’s preliminary injunction that blocks a federal rule requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choosing.

Kentucky is one of 13 states suing the federal government over the policy.

“We are pleased the federal court has put a halt to the Obama administration’s absurd proposals for bathroom and locker room policy in our public schools,” Bevin said in a statement Monday. “The court’s decision recognizes the danger of this governmental overreach and reaffirms the right of local control.”

Bevin joined Kentucky in the multi-state lawsuit in late May, saying that the new rule violates the 10th Amendment, which concerns powers delegated to the states and the federal government.

Earlier that month, the federal Department of Justice sent a letter to schools across the country telling them they must “immediately allow students to use the bathrooms, locker rooms and showers of the student’s choosing, or risk losing Title IX-linked funding.”

The states argued the new guidelines would violate federal education regulations that require public schools to have separate restrooms based on sex.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor of Wichita Falls, TX agreed, ruling that the Obama administration could not enforce the policy because students would be allowed to use restrooms that don’t correspond with the sex they had at birth.

In the order, the judge said that the “plain meaning” of the term “sex” as well as its use in federal education policy means “the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth.”

As NPR reported Monday, under his injunction, O’Connor ordered all parties to “maintain the status quo.” That would mean until the lawsuit works its way through the courts, the existing rules would be maintained and the guidance from the Obama administration could not be considered enforceable.

A bill that would have required transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with the sex on their birth certificate failed to pass during this year’s Kentucky General Assembly.

Joining Kentucky in the lawsuit are the states of Texas, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, Georgia and Mississippi; Harrold Independent School District in Texas, the Arizona Department of Education, Heber-Overgaard Unified School District in Arizona and Maine Gov. Paul LePage.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.