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HRC Analysis: Lawsuit Attempts to Gut Federal Non-Discrimination Protections for Trans People

by HRC staff May 25, 2016

Today, HRC released the following statement on the reckless and shameful lawsuit filed today by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and government actors from 10 other states, which aims to block federal nondiscrimination protections for transgender people.

In the suit, Paxton -- who has been indicted -- has led other states seeking to undo crucial and historic non-discrimination advancements the federal government has implemented for transgender people in recent years. Specifically, the lawsuit attacks guidance from the U.S. Department of Education which explains that schools are obligated under federal law to protect transgender students from discrimination challenges guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with regards to transgender employees, and seeks to undermine the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s determination that transgender employees are covered by federal employment nondiscrimination law.

"The lawsuit filed today is dangerous political grandstanding that has put a target on the backs of transgender Americans in schools and workplaces across the country," said Sarah Warbelow, Legal Director of the Human Rights Campaign. "The guidance recently issued by the United States Departments of Education and Justice is a clarification of the existing state of the law, and that clarification was requested by educators who were already hard at work ensuring that their students, including transgender students, were able to get an education where they are safe and enabled to learn. This lawsuit not only misrepresents the guidance and misrepresents the law, it does significant harm to transgender people by encouraging discriminatory behavior.  We look forward to seeing this case receive the disposition it deserves."

Today, HRC released a letter signed by national organizations representing almost five million educators, pediatricians, counselors, and other child welfare providers urging lawmakers and public officials, like Paxton, to stop their political attacks on transgender youth. These organizations include the American Federation of Teachers; the American Academy of Pediatrics; the American Counseling Association; the National Association of School Psychologists; and the National Education Association.

Paxton previously issued an opinion encouraging clerks to refuse to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court’s historic marriage equality ruling in Obergefell v Hodges. Paxton’s opinion is similar to one issued by Alabama Chief Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, who was recently suspended from the bench after directing probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Texas State Bar rules requires all attorneys, including the Attorney General, to take an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

Also today, HRC Welcoming Schools released a key resource for school officials to effectively and respectfully follow recent guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on the rights of transgender students. The guide answers questions school officials may be asked by parents, guardians and other community members.

HRC staff
HRC staff


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