Magistrate Judge Recommends No Injunction in District 211 Bathroom Transgender Case; Texas Federal Judge Maintains that Injunction Applies Nationwide

By October 24, 2016 News No Comments

On October 18, 2016, Magistrate Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert recommended a denial of Students and Parents for Privacy’s request for a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the settlement agreement between District 211 and the Office for Civil Rights.

On May 23, 2016, Students and Parents for Privacy moved for a preliminary injunction to bar enforcement of the Locker Room Agreement, among other things. The motion for the preliminary injunction also requested an injunction directed at the Federal Defendants enjoining enforcement of the rule requiring schools to allow students to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

The parties have 14 days to file written objections to the Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation.

By way of background, on May 4, 2016, a group called Students and Parents for Privacy, along with several individually named plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit against District 211, the United States Department of Education, John King (the Secretary of Education), the United States Department of Justice, and Loretta Lynch (the Attorney General) alleging that by entering into the settlement agreement, these parties “trample[d] students’ privacy and other constitutional and statutory rights.”

The complaint seeks to set aside the Department of Education’s rule interpreting the term “sex” in Title IX to include gender identity. The complaint specifically alleges that the defendants violated the plaintiffs’ fundamental rights to privacy, the plaintiffs’ fundamental rights to direct the education and upbringing of their children, Title IX, the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the First Amendment.

Almost immediately after Magistrate Judge Gilbert issued his recommendation in Illinois, a Texas federal judge enjoined the federal government from enforcement of its “Dear Colleague Letter” regarding rights of transgender students.

On October 18, 2016, the Federal District Court Judge in the Texas et al. v. United States et al. filed an order on the parties’ notices of pending litigation and motion for clarification. The Judge clarified that he intended the injunction issued in August 2016 to apply nationwide. The Judge further clarified that the injunction does not affect the core missions of the federal defendants and further that the EEOC’s duties are not affected by the preliminary injunction. Finally, the Judge ordered the parties to brief a handful of outstanding issues, including whether the Occupational Health and Safety Administration or the Department of Labor is affected by the injunction.

Both the District 211 and the Texas cases remain pending. Neither of the decisions reported in this article warrant day-to-day changes of operations in Illinois schools. As previously reported, the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) protects transgender individuals in the state of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Human Rights has indicated that it will enforce the IHRA consistent with the United States Department of Education enforcement of Title IX.

Please contact Michelle Todd, Stephanie Jones, or Kaitlin Atlas with your transgender student inquiries.

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