According to the agencies’ guidance, transgender students and workers are covered under Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination at federally funded schools, and Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. The guidance was designed to protect transgender individuals from a slew of anti-trans policies, including bans from school sports teams, bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity, as well as measures that allow employers to intentionally refuse to use a worker’s preferred pronouns.
“As it currently stands, plaintiffs must choose between the threat of legal consequences — enforcement action, civil penalties, and the withholding of federal funding — or altering their state laws to ensure compliance with the guidance and avoid such adverse action,” the order read.
CNN has reached out to the Department of Education and the EEOC for comment on the order.
But Atchley said in his order that the Education Department ignores “the limited reach of Bostock.”
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III applauded the order in a statement Sunday, saying Atchley “rightly recognized the federal government put Tennessee and other states in an impossible situation: choose between the threat of legal consequences, including the withholding of federal funding, or altering our state laws to comply.”
“We are thankful the court put a stop to it, maintained the status quo as the lawsuit proceeds, and reminded the federal government it cannot direct its agencies to rewrite the law,” he added.
The order drew outrage from LGBTQ advocates, with one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights groups calling it “yet another example of far-right judges legislating from the bench.”
“Nothing in this decision can stop schools from treating students consistent with their gender identity. And nothing in this decision eliminates schools’ obligations under Title IX or students’ or parents’ abilities to bring lawsuits in federal court,” Joni Madison, the Human Rights Campaign’s interim president, said in a statement Saturday. “HRC will continue to fight these anti-transgender rulings with every tool in our toolbox.”
The proposed changes face a public comment period before being finalized.