Eleven states are suing the Obama administration over its recent directive saying students have the right under federal law to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. Nine of the 11 states have Republican governors. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the lawsuit Wednesday.

This lawsuit — which bears the names of nine states as well as a governor and another state’s education department — is the first filed in response to the administration’s letter.  Although some politicians, parents, elected officials and school districts embraced the directive, others aggressively argued against it and said the administration was overstepping its authority.

The lawsuit is challenging the Obama administration over federal guidance directing schools to allow transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities that match their gender identities.  The federal lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, states that the guidance “has no basis in law” and could cause “seismic changes in the operations of the nation’s school districts.”

State officials have hinted they might file a legal challenge since the Obama administration released a letter earlier this month from the Justice Department and the Education Department that the federal agencies said was in response to questions from schools around the country.

“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement when the letter was released. “This guidance gives administrators, teachers, and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies.”

In that letter, the two agencies cited Title IX, which prohibits sexual discrimination at educational facilities that receive federal funding, and said that this extended to how schools treat transgender students.  The lawsuit filed Wednesday argues that the Obama administration was “officially foisting its new version of federal law” on schools and accuses federal officials of seeking “to rewrite Title IX by executive fiat.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has been very vocal about his disagreement with the letter.  Abbott accused President Obama’s administration of overreach, saying that it was issuing directives on matters that should be dealt with by Congress.

In a press conference shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Abbott accused the Obama administration of sidestepping Congress, “just as they did with issues like immigration.” Texas, along with 25 other states, filed a lawsuit challenging Obama’s executive action seeking to shield people from deportation. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case last month, after lower courts ruled that the plan could not be implemented.

 

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