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Federal Judge Blocks Transgender Guidance

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A federal court in Texas has enjoined the enforcement of the transgender guidance issued last May by the Department of Justice and the Department of Education (“Departments”).  In a far-reaching injunction filed on Sunday, Judge Reed O’Connor concluded (a) the Departments bypassed the notice and comment process required by the Administrative Procedures Act, (b) the language of Title IX and its regulations was not ambiguous so as to necessitate administrative clarification, (c) the Departments were not entitled to any deference in their interpretation of Title IX, and (d) the Departments’ actions constituted a threat of irreparable harm to the plaintiffs, a group of thirteen states and two school districts.

The court determined that the injunction should have nationwide effect until such time as the court has the opportunity to fully hear the case on the merits or until the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issues some further direction.  Consequently, the injunction impacts the manner in which every college in the United States administers Title IX.

One should anticipate that the Departments will seek immediate review by the Fifth Circuit.  Thus, the status of the injunction is subject to change in the next several days or weeks.  Title IX Coordinators and senior administration officials on every campus should closely monitor the status of the case. In the meantime, colleges must carefully consider how best to deal with transgender students.  

For further information about the ruling and its implications on campus, please contact any member of the firm’s Higher Education Practice Team.

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