Texas District Court Halts Enforcement of Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students

By September 1, 2016 News No Comments

On August 21, 2016, a federal court in Texas granted an injunction enjoining the federal government from enforcing the terms of a “Dear Colleague Letter” issued by the Department of Education and the Department of Justice in May. The court held that the United States government “failed to comply with the Administrative Procedures Act by: (1) foregoing the Administrative Procedures Act’s notice and comment requirements; and (2) issuing directives which contradict the existing legislative and regulatory texts.”

The district court further held that the injunction should apply nationwide and that the Department of Education shall be “enjoined from enforcing the Guidelines against Plaintiffs and their respective schools, school boards, and other public, educationally-based institutions.” Further, the injunction enjoins the federal government from “initiating, continuing, or concluding any investigation based on Defendants’ interpretation that the definition of sex includes gender identity in Title IX’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex…[and] from using the Guidelines or asserting the Guidelines carry any weight in any litigation.”

By way of background, on May 25, 2016, a lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The complaint in State of Texas v. United States challenged the May 13, 2016, “Dear Colleague Letter” issued by the DOE and DOJ on the rights of transgender students.

On July 6, 2016, the plaintiffs, several states, state education agencies, and individual school districts, applied for a preliminary injunction asking the court to enjoin the federal government from enforcing the terms “Dear Colleague Letter.”

The decision on the preliminary injunction did not indicate when a final decision in this case could be expected. HLERK will continue to monitor the status of this case.

Several lawsuits related to transgender students are still pending and HLERK continues to follow and report on those cases and the legal issues surrounding transgender students.

Please contact Michelle Todd, Stephanie Jones or Kaitlin Atlas with your transgender student inquiries and the most up-to-date information.

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