Earlier this month, Obama issued guidance to public schools suggesting that transgender students should be allowed to use the restroom and locker rooms that match their gender identity. Governor Bill Haslam has criticized the directive and accused Obama of "over-reaching."
On Wednesday, 11 states — Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Maine, Arizona, Louisiana, Utah, and Georgia — filed a lawsuit in a North Texas federal court declaring the directive to be unlawful.
The suit states that Obama has “conspired to turn workplace and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights."
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery released the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:
The Executive Branch has taken what should be a state and local issue [under the Tenth Amendment] and made it a federal issue. Schools that do not conform under the new rules risk losing their federal funding. This is yet another instance of the Executive Branch changing law on a grand scale, which is not its constitutional role. Congress legislates, not the Executive Branch. Our Office has consistently opposed efforts like this to take away states’ rights and exclude the people’s representatives from making these decisions, or at a minimum being able to engage in a notice and comment period under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). As the complaint describes, it is a social experiment implemented by federal departments denying basic privacy rights and placing the burden largely on our children, not adults. Sitting on the sidelines on this issue was not an option.
Meanwhile, Shelby County Schools has said they're carefully reviewing the information Obama sent to school districts, and they'll continue to work with families of transgender students on a case-by-case basis.
Tennessee will join 10 other states in a lawsuit suing President Barack Obama's administration over its directive regarding transgender student bathroom access in public schools.