A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

U.S. District Court judge bars enforcement of Biden directive allowing transgender females in girls sports

By Mark Maynard
Kentucky Today

The federal government cannot force Kentucky and 19 other states to allow biological males to compete on female sports teams, a district court ruled.

U.S. District Judge Charles Atchley Jr. in an order on Friday ruled for the 20 state attorneys general who sued last August claiming the Biden administration directives infringe on states’ right to enact laws that, for example, prevent students from participating in sports based on their gender identity or requiring schools and businesses to provide bathrooms and showers to accommodate transgender people.

Action by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and the coalition of attorneys general led to the decision from the federal district court judge to stop the federal government from enforcing new, expansive, and unlawful guidance on federal antidiscrimination laws.

A district court ruling will not allow the federal government to force allowing biological males to compete on female sports teams. (Photo from Unsplash, via Kentucky Today)

The now-enjoined guidance, issued by the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, attempted to interpret Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to force schools to allow biological males to compete on girls’ sports teams and to prohibit sex-separated showers and locker rooms.

“As young women across the commonwealth work hard to compete in sports they love, we must work to preserve the integrity of women’s sports and ensure an even playing field for girls and young women,” Cameron said. “The federal government’s flawed guidance in this area jeopardizes decades of progress in women’s sports, and I’m grateful that our lawsuit stopped the new guidance from moving forward.”

Last year, the federal government issued an interpretation of the prohibition on sex discrimination found in Title IX to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The attorneys general argue that this interpretation is based on a flawed understanding of the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County.

Atchley agreed with the attorneys generals’ argument and issued a temporary injunction that prevents the agencies from applying that guidance on LGBTQ discrimination until the matter can be resolved by courts.

“As demonstrated above, the harm alleged by Plaintiff States is already occurring — their sovereign power to enforce their own legal code is hampered by the issuance of Defendants’ guidance and they face substantial pressure to change their state laws as a result,” Atchley wrote.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 83 to protect the integrity of women’s sports in Kentucky. The bill was vetoed by Governor Andy Beshear, and the veto was overridden by the General Assembly. Cameron pledged to defend the law in court if it was challenged.

The following states joined Kentucky in the Tennessee-led lawsuit against the federal government’s guidance: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia.

Read the district court’s ruling here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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