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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Texas joins states filing amicus brief to support school rights

By David Yates | May 17, 2017

General court 05

AUSTIN – On May 15, Attorney General Ken Paxton joined a coalition of 17 states filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th circuit to support a Virginia school district’s stand that its intimate spaces policy for students is lawful under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

In Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., the school board argues that the definition of sex in Title IX – a statute that prohibits public schools from discriminating on the basis of sex – pertains to one’s biological sex and does not include gender identity.

The school district’s policy requires students to use restrooms that correspond with their biological sex.

A Gloucester High student who was born female but identifies as male sued the school system to get full access to the boys’ bathrooms, even though single-occupancy unisex facilities were installed as an accommodation.

The friend-of-the-court brief warns of the financial harm that could come to the nation’s schools if federal overreach forces them to relinquish control of policies that protect student privacy and permit reasonable accommodations, or else forfeit a cumulative $55.8 billion in annual federal school funds.

In Texas, those funds comprise nearly 20 percent of the total budget for schools.

“Schools are facing the potential loss of federal funding all because local educators are exercising the authority to implement common-sense policies that best protect their students’ privacy, safety and dignity,” Paxton said. “Texas has led the fight to prevent the Department of Education from unilaterally rewriting federal law. Title IX permits schools to maintain separate facilities, including bathrooms and locker rooms, and the 4th Circuit should recognize this principle."

Last year, an Obama-era guidance letter threatened to strip federal funding from schools unwilling to let students use intimate facilities designated for the opposite sex.

Paxton led a coalition of 13 states in a lawsuit resulting in a nationwide injunction against the directive. The Trump administration revoked the directive in March, which prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to send the Gloucester case to the 4th Circuit for reconsideration.

In addition to Texas, the other states joining West Virginia are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.

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