September 2, 2021
Twenty predominantly conservative states sued the U.S. Department of Education this week, seeking to overturn its interpretation that gay and transgender people are protected under the federal law banning sex-based discrimination in schools.
The states, led by Tennessee, said in court filings that the department’s interpretation of Title IX runs afoul of federal law, regulatory processes, and the Constitution.
They also took aim at recent guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stating employers must accommodate LGBTQ workers on certain issues, including their preferred restrooms and pronouns.
One of President Joe Biden’s first executive orders affirmed that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected classes under federal sex discrimination laws.
In that order, he directed federal agencies to review whether their policies and rules complied with this interpretation, citing a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Bostock v. Clayton County, that established LGBTQ protections in federal employment law.
Subsequently, the Education Department in June issued a public notice that it considered gay and transgender individuals to be shielded from discrimination under Title IX. Colleges must follow this law or risk losing their federal funding.
Bostock focused on Title VII, the anti-discrimination employment law, which contains language akin to Title IX’s.