Twenty states have filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration in an attempt to halt directives that extend federal sex discrimination protections to transgender people.
Leading the coalition is Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, who filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, arguing in a statement that “this case is about two federal agencies changing law, which is Congress’ exclusive prerogative.”
Attorneys general from the 20 states are challenging federal guidance issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Education (DOE) concerning issues ranging from transgender girls participating in girls’ sports to transgender individuals using school and workplace bathrooms in accordance with their gender identity to being compelled to use another person’s preferred pronouns.
The DOE and EEOC had issued guidance stating that, based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which said employers cannot terminate workers because of their gender identity or sexuality, that not recognizing a person’s gender identity would also constitute actionable discrimination under Title VII.
The lawsuit argues that Bostock was a “narrow decision” that was limited to employment termination and “did not address the myriad other forms of alleged discrimination” the agencies identified as prohibited discrimination under Title VII, like sex-segregated bathrooms and sports teams.
The guidance, the lawsuit argues, “purports to resolve highly controversial and localized issues such as whether employers and schools may maintain sex-separated showers and locker rooms, whether schools must allow biological males to compete on female athletic teams, and whether individuals may be compelled to use another person’s preferred pronouns.
“But the agencies have no authority to resolve those sensitive questions, let alone to do so by executive fiat without providing any opportunity for public participation,” it states.
Joining Tennessee on the lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.