UPDATED: Texas Senate holding hearing on bathroom bill Friday, phone bank Thursday

Sen. Joan Huffman

UPDATE: HRC field organizer Criss Ruiz needs volunteers to staff a phone bank Thursday, July 20, from 4-8 p.m., to call constituents and remind them to contact their state senators and state representatives and urge those elected officials to vote against anti-transgender bathroom bills during the special session of the Texas Legislature.

Ruiz stressed that phone bank is not necessary because training will be offered on site. She also said that while those participating will have access to a laptop, it would help if volunteers who are able to bring a laptop and mouse would do so.

The phone bank will be set up at the Dallas County Democratic Party office, 4209 Parry Ave. Email Ruiz at Criss.Ruiz@hrc.org for information and to volunteer.

Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, has announced there will be a hearing on Sen. Lois Kolkhorst’s anti-transgender bathroom bill at 9 a.m. Friday, July 21, at the Texas State Capitol.

The actual language of this version of the bill has not been released. Opponents of the discriminatory bill have established a Facebook page to post updates about the hearing.

Opponents are also organizing ride-sharing/carpool efforts to get people to Austin for the Friday morning hearing. Check here to sign up to participate.

In HRC field organizer Criss Ruiz is working to set up a Dallas-area phone bank for Thursday, July 20, to get volunteers to call constituents and remind them to call their state senators and representatives to express their opposition to this and other bathroom bills. Check back here for updates.

—  Tammye Nash

HRC phone banking continues; volunteers needed

As Texas lawmakers prepare to convene in Austin for a special session that will once again include efforts to pass an anti-trans bathroom bill, the Human Rights Campaign/DFW continues its phone banks, and they are looking for volunteers to participate.

Those who volunteer for the phone banking will be calling Texans in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex to remind them to call their state representatives and senators and voice opposition to the bathroom bill and other bad legislation, according to HRC field organizer Criss Ruiz.

Phone banks will be in operation from 4-8 p.m. at the Dallas County Democratic Party headquarters, 4209 Parry Ave., on July 18, July 25, Aug. 1, Aug. 8 and Aug. 15.

For information, email Ruiz at CrissRuiz@hrc.org.

—  Tammye Nash

Celebrating Pride and peeing in Austin

Austin Pride celebrated the 48th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots on Wednesday, June 28, with this lovely display on the steps of the Texas Capitol. The art installation takes a very colorful jab at some lawmakers — Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — who seem hell-bent on ruining our state’s economy and its reputation by passing an anti-trans bathroom bill. I found the photo on the Facebook page of Sister Lawn Joqui with the DFW Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Her sentiments: “Happy Pride and Happy 48th Stonewall anniversary, you bathroom bill pushing motherf*¢kers!”

—  Tammye Nash

UIL takes no action on trans proposals

James M. Russell
Special to Dallas Voice

 

McDonnell.Rafael

Rafael McDonnell, Resource Center communications and advocacy manager

The statewide body overseeing high school sports and other extracurricular activities made no decision on three proposals impacting transgender student athletes at their meeting in Round Rock today (Tuesday, June 13).

The committees comprising the University Interscholastic League were slated to consider three proposals with consequences for transgender student athletes. But all three failed to get enough support to pass out of committee.

Another would have been a step forward for the body by aligning its performance enhancing drug policy with the International Olympic Committee’s. The IOC’s standards, which allow transgender athletes to compete, passed in early 2016.

According to the rule, female-to-male athletes will be able to participate in men’s competitions with no restriction. Male-to-female athletes, however, will need to prove their testosterone levels have been below a certain level for the past year to be allowed to compete.

That proposal clarifying trans student athlete participation was initially heard in the athletics committee before being transferred to policy.

“The athletics committee head seemed understanding,” said Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager at Resource Center. “He said he understood this was an issue of equity.”

Two of the proposals, however, would have made it even more difficult for transgender student athletes to participate.

A proposal similar to a bill that was considered by the legislature would have banned any athlete “performance-enhancing drugs,” which would rule out any transgender athlete taking any dosage of hormone replacement therapy. Despite scientific evidence concluding a student who is transition is taking fewer hormones than one who is doping, the proposal has consistently appeared before UIL and elsewhere.

A similar bill by Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, would have done the same thing.

Another would allow any parent to complain to the legislative council about the eligibility of another student. The issue could have an unintended consequence for transgender athletes.

None of the proposals passed. But McDonnell noted a new rule went stating a student athlete’s gender is determined on a student’s birth certificate, not gender identity went into effect this year. So while other discriminatory rules may have been dodged, is that a victory?

“There’s no political will to change these policies. But there may be a political will to keep them as is,” McDonnell said.

—  Tammye Nash

Progressive leaders slam Abbott over special session agenda

Lambda Legal senior counsel Jenny Pizer

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced today (Tuesday, June 6) that he will convene a special session of the Texas Legislature on July 18 and that the agenda for the special session includes school vouchers, the anti-transgender “bathroom bill” and multiple restrictions on abortion access.

Progressive leaders were quick to speak out against Abbott’s agenda:

Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas: “Lt. Gov. Patrick held the must-pass sunset bill hostage in order to advance his extremist agenda, and today Gov. Abbott paid the ransom. Taken together, the special session’s agenda items constitute an assault on Texas’s most persecuted communities — on women, on schoolchildren, on transgender kids. But there’s a reason this discriminatory legislation didn’t pass during the regular session: Texans don’t want it. And when legislators return to Austin on July 18, they should expect to meet stiff resistance not only from the ACLU, but from every Texan who believes everyone deserves a fair shot rather than a government running roughshod over our civil liberties.

“There is enough actual business Texas legislators need to take care of without pandering to Lt. Gov. Patrick and his determination to demonize transgender kids. That’s not just wrong and abusive: it’s also begging to be sued,” Burke said.

Jennifer C. Pizer, senior counsel and director of law and policy for Lambda Legal: “It was certainly widely expected that Gov. Abbott would call a special session. There are many items that Texas legislators did not act on, perhaps because they were distracted by the numerous, cruel efforts to enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination into law. There is enough actual business Texas legislators need to take care of without pandering to Lt. Gov. Patrick and his determination to demonize transgender kids. That’s not just wrong and abusive: it’s also begging to be sued.

“Let’s be clear,” Pizer continued, “the Legislature did find the time to pass HB 3859, a discriminatory bill that would allow many child placement agencies in the state foster care system — including agencies receiving state and federal funding — to prioritize their religious beliefs above the needs of children and to operate in a manner explicitly counter to professional standards. That bill is now before Gov. Abbott, and we call on him again to veto it.”

Pizer concluded, “We ask the Texas Legislature not to compound the error with this unwarranted solution in search of a problem driven by Lt. Gov. Patrick’s mistaken, discriminatory belief that transgender schoolchildren pose some kind of danger to others. Dozens of business leaders and sports organizations have called on legislators not to enact anti-LGBT legislation, pointing to the experience of North Carolina as a cautionary tale. And, as we said before, if the legislature does force discrimination targeting transgender schoolchildren into Texas law, you can bet that Lambda Legal will be on the case before the next school bell rings.”

Pizer also noted that Lambda Legal “stands ready to help transgender youth who experience discrimination in school, foster care or anywhere else.” Those students, their parents or guardians should call the Lambda Legal Help Desk at 212-809-8585 or to visit LambdaLegal.org/trans-students.

Sara Kate Ellis, president and CEO of Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), also had choice words regarding Abbott’s special session agenda: “Gov. Greg Abbott is proving everything is bigger in Texas, including prioritizing discrimination. If the governor moves forward with this harmful legislation against trans students, LGBTQ people, businesses, and fair-minded Texans will respond in Texas style — big. Trans Texans have experienced harassment and threats because of this last session and if any anti-trans bills get signed into law, then Gov. Abbott’s legacy will be turning Texas into a state known for harming some its most marginalized people.”

—  Tammye Nash

Senate set to vote today on Bathroom Bill

Sen. Joan Huffman

Last week the Texas Senate’s State Affairs Committee voted 8-1 to send SB 6, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s ridiculous bathroom bill — you know, the one that will supposedly keep women and children safe but in reality only interferes with transgender people using the appropriate public bathroom facilities — to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

Today, the Senate as a whole is scheduled to vote on the measure. So call your senator ASAP and let him or her know exactly what you think about the bathroom bill.

If you aren’t sure who your senator is or how to contact him or her, check here.

And while you are at it, you might want to look up the contact info for state Sen. Joan Huffman, the Houston Republican who chairs the State Affairs Committee. She’s the one caught last week on a hot mic calling a trans man testifying against the bathroom bill a “pervert.” Watch the video below to hear it for yourself.

Colt Keo-Meier, a clinical psychologist who runs the Transgender Health Lab at the University of Houston and the man Huffman called a pervert, told The Intellectualist, “You know, as a person of God, I have to say, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ To tell someone that they are a pervert for telling you the truth about their life. Who’s the perverted one in that case?”

—  Tammye Nash

Paxton sues Waller County over licensed carry ban

Ken-Paxton-mug

Texas AG Ken Paxton

As if he weren’t busy enough suing the federal government, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton managed to make time to sue one of his own state’s 254 counties, defending people’s right to carry guns in government offices.

Paxton sent out a press release today bragging that he has sued Waller County “to bring it into compliance with the state’s licensed carry laws.”

According to the press release, Paxton “gave Waller County final notice to comply with the law” on Aug. 10. When county officials refused to give in Litigious Ken (I’m borrowing from the Donald Trump playbook and giving him a catchy nickname) decided to sue. (Last week, in announcing that he had filed suit against the federal government over HHS regulations banning discrimination against transgender people in health care, Paxton noted it was his 13th lawsuit, in less than 2 years, against the federal government.)

 

Paxton’s press release notes that the lawsuit “requires [Waller] county to allow citizens to lawfully carry firearms in areas of the Waller County Courthouse that contain non-judicial county administrative offices, such as the county clerk, county treasurer and county elections offices, as the law requires.”

The press release goes on to quote Litigious Ken as saying, “A local government cannot be allowed to flout Texas’s (sic) licensed carry laws, or any state law, simply because it disagrees with the law or doesn’t feel like honoring it. I will vigilantly protect and preserve the Second Amendment rights of Texans.”

Let me take a moment to remind you all that the man who is so diligently demanding that Waller County follow the law has already been fined by the Texas State Securities Board, in 2014, for failing to disclose that he had been paid to solicit investment clients on behalf of a firm that was paying him a commission, and now faces additional state and federal securities fraud charges. You can read about it here in this Texas Monthly article. Apparently he’s the only person allowed to flout the law because he doesn’t feel like honoring it.

I will give him this, though: Paxton isn’t demanding that Waller County do anything he isn’t willing to do (except, you know, obey the law). I called and checked, and his office in Austin allows those with licenses to carry to bring their guns into his offices.

—  Tammye Nash

Now Paxton is suing to deny trans people proper health care

Ken-Paxton-mug

Ken Paxton

Less than two days after a federal judge in Fort Worth issued an injunction halting enforcement the Obama administration’s guidelines for school districts on transgender students and issues, in a lawsuit filed by 13 states led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Paxton announced today (Tuesday, Aug. 23), that his has filed yet another lawsuit against the federal government, this time targeting proper health care for transgender people.

In July, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services implemented a new regulation intended to protect transgender people from discrimination in the provision of healthcare, The new regulation notes that the term “sex” in the Affordable Healthcare Act includes gender identity, when it comes to prohibiting discrimination.

According to the HHS website, the new regulations require that women have equal access to the health care they receive and the insurance they obtain, and make clear that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on gender identity. That means individuals cannot be denied health care or health coverage based on their sex, including their gender identity; that individuals must be treated consistent with their gender identity, including in access to facilities; that sex-specific health care cannot be denied or limited just because the person seeking such services identifies as belonging to another gender (For example, a provider may not deny an individual treatment for ovarian cancer, based on the individual’s identification as a transgender man, where the treatment is medically indicated), and that “explicit categorical exclusions in coverage for all health care services related to gender transition are facially discriminatory. Other exclusions for gender transition care will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.”

Ken Paxton, however, sees things a bit differently. In a press release announcing his newest lawsuit against the Obama administration, he claims to be battling “against yet another Obama Administration regulatory overreach that is invading the coffers of Texas, as well as violating the medical judgment and conscience rights of doctors and health care professionals across the country.”

Paxton claims that when enacting the Affordable Health Care Act, Congress intended the term “sex” to denote a biological category.  And now, “The Obama Administration [is trying] to redefine the law so that the term ‘sex’ means ones’ ‘internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither or a combination of male and female.’ But the President does not have the power to rewrite the law.”

Paxton’s press release says the new rules could have significant impact on Texas and health care workers because it requires taxpayers to fund “all treatments designed to transition to a different sex,” and it “forces health care workers, including physicians, to provide controversial services.”

The press release continues, “Under the new rule, a physician that believes that certain treatments are not in a patient’s best medical interests may be in violation of federal law. And a physician that, for religious or conscientious reasons cannot perform a particular procedure, chooses to instead refer a patient to another health care provider may be determined to be in violation of this new rule.”

Directly quoting Paxton, the press release says, “This is the thirteenth lawsuit I have been forced to bring against the Obama Administration’s continued threats on constitutional rights of Texans. The federal government has no right to force Texans to pay for medical procedures designed to change a person’s sex. I am disappointed in the Obama Administration’s lack of consideration for medical professionals who believe that engaging in such procedures or treatment violates their Hippocratic Oath, their conscience or their personal religious beliefs, which are protected by the Constitution and federal law.”

Paxton made no mention, however, of his and other Republicans’ efforts to interfere with the doctor/patient relationship when it comes to abortion and other medical treatments/issues affecting women. He also made no mention of the fact that while he continues to waste taxpayer money by filing politically-motivated lawsuits against the federal government, specifically targeting LGBT people in many cases, he has been soliciting donations from individuals and corporations to pay his own legal bills associated with the state and federal securities fraud charges against him. That includes, by the way, a $100,000 donation from the CEO of a company that was under investigation by the AG’s Office.

Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director for the ACLU of Texas, issued a statement today about Paxton’s latest lawsuit, noting that, “Yesterday Texas’ leaders patted themselves on the back for convincing a federal court that transgender schoolchildren should be excluded from the protections of Title IX. Today, the state filed another suit in the same court, this time challenging federal protections intended to shield transgender people from discrimination in healthcare services. We don’t know what else the state has in store, but the people of Texas will not stand idly by and let the state make transgender Texans into second-class citizens with no legal recourse when they face stigma and bias.

“Texas is better than this. This is not who we are,” Robertson said.

—  Tammye Nash

Paxton, anti-trans forces win 1st round, but fight continues

UPDATE: On Tuesday Ken Paxton announced he has filed yet another lawsuit against the federal government, this time challenging Health and Human Services regulations protecting transgender people from discrimination in their medical care. See our InstanTEA blog post here.

FW judge’s ruling on trans students guidelines could send 4th Circuit case to SCOTUS

 

Lisa Keen | Keen News Service
KeenNewsService@gmail.com

 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

Texas AG Ken Paxton

In a move that could increase attention on the U.S. Supreme Court, a federal judge on Sunday, Aug. 21, issued a temporary order blocking the Obama administration from taking any action against states that refuse to comply with its guidelines concerning treatment of transgender students in federally-funded schools.

The order, from Judge Reed O’Connor — a George W. Bush appointee — enables at least 23 states that have expressed opposition to the Obama administration guidelines issued in May to ignore those guidelines until the court can rule on the merits of lawsuits challenging them.

The guidelines, from the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice, state that discrimination against transgender students violates federal law against sex discrimination and that schools failing to comply with the laws could lose their federal funding.

A White House spokesman reiterated Monday, Aug. 22, the administration’s contention that the guidelines were “certainly not a mandate” and characterized the lawsuit as an election year attempt to “play politics” with issues involving transgender students.

“[O]ur goal has been from the beginning to provide for the safety and security and dignity of students all across the country,” said John Earnest, press secretary for President Obama.

Lambda Legal and four other national legal groups working on LGBT issues expressed disappointment in Judge O’Connor’s injunction. They said it is likely to confuse school districts trying to help transgender students and goes against “years of clear legal precedent nationwide establishing that transgender students have the right to go to school without being singled out for discrimination.”

The groups said the injunction would have “no effect on the ability of other courts or lawyers representing transgender people to continue to rely on the federal government’s interpretations of Title IX or on prior decisions that have reached similar conclusions about the scope of federal sex discrimination laws.”

Officials with Resource Center, the LGBT community center in Dallas, on Monday issued a statement saying O’Conner’s ruling “is not the final word on the Obama administration’s efforts to provide civil rights protections for transgender Americans.

The statement continued, “The stay will likely be quickly appealed, first to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans and ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s also important to remember this is just a stay, and not the final ruling of a trial. With other cases in the legal pipeline, the rights of transgender Americans may end up being asserted and confirmed in another, higher court.

“The legal guidance the administration provided — rooted in their interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Code, as well as decades of case law, are legally sound” Resource Center’s statement continued. “The judge did not address that in his stay. Rather, he issued his decision based on the arcane process of federal rule-making. The Center believes that justice will prevail and the guidelines will eventually be upheld, but that is cold comfort to transgender students nationwide at the beginning of their school year. Nor does it offer any optimism to transgender people in the workplace, even though the judge did not immediately address the state of Texas and other plaintiff’s efforts to put a halt to the Obama administration’s guidance in that area.”

 

Big enough conflict?

But the injunction could have an effect on whether the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to take up the issue sooner rather than later.

Judge O’Connor’s decision in this preliminary matter contradicts a ruling of another federal court. And conflicts among federal courts make issues more likely to attract Supreme Court intervention.

The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which prohibits discrimination based on sex by federally-funded educational institutions, prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.

Judge O’Connor for the U.S. District Court of Northern Texas said “the plain meaning of the term sex” does not include gender identity. Noting that the Supreme Court had granted a stay against the Fourth Circuit decision, O’Connor said a decision from the Supreme Court “may obviate the issues in this lawsuit.”

Judge O’Connor’s decision makes clear he thinks states opposing the Obama administration guidelines have a strong case. He said, “the plain meaning of the term sex” in Title IX “meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth.” The guidelines, therefore, are “contrary to law.”

In the preliminary ruling, O’Connor said the guidelines pose a sufficient level of threat to the statutes and constitutions of plaintiff states to demonstrate “a threat of irreparable harm” that warrants a temporary injunction.

Starting in 2010, Obama administration agencies began interpreting federal laws barring discrimination on the basis of “sex” to include “gender identity.” That meant laws prohibiting discrimination based on sex provided some protection for people whose gender identity is different from that stated on their birth certificate. In May, the departments of Education and Justice distributed a letter with “guidelines,” saying discrimination against such transgender students violates federal laws and that schools failing to comply with the laws could lose their federal funding.

The letter, said O’Connor, “provides not only must [states] permit individuals to use the [school restrooms and facilities] consistent with their gender identity,” but stipulates that alternative accommodations are unacceptable.

Thirteen states filed the lawsuit, Texas v. U.S., to argue that Congress intended “sex” to refer “only to one’s biological sex, as male or female.” Those states also include Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Ten other states — Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming — filed a similar lawsuit in a federal court in Nebraska.

In granting the injunction, Judge O’Connor said the Obama administration’s guidelines are “clearly designed to target” plaintiff states with “legal consequences” if the states fail to follow the guidelines.

The Obama administration’s guidelines and actions, said O’Connor, “indicate that [states] jeopardize their federal education funding by choosing not to comply” with the guidelines. Thus, he said, those guidelines are both “legislative and substantive” and that the public should have been given an opportunity to comment on those guidelines.

“The information before the Court,” said O’Connor, “demonstrates [the Obama administration agencies] have ‘drawn a line in the sand’ in that they have concluded [states] must abide by the guidelines, without exception, or they are in breach of their Title IX obligations.”

“Permitting the definition of sex to be defined [as the Obama administration has stated] would allow [the administration] to ‘create de facto new regulation’ by agency action without complying with the proper procedures.”

At issue are two federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which covers employment, and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act, which covers educational institutions.

A brief filed by five pro-LGBT legal groups argued that federal appeals courts governing many of the states opposing the Obama guidelines have already ruled that sex discrimination includes discrimination against transgender people.

The groups include Lambda Legal, the ACLU, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (formerly known as GLAD), and the Transgender Law Center.

Jon Davidson, national legal director for Lambda Legal, said he does not believe O’Connor’s ruling will increase the probability that the Supreme Court will accept the Fourth Circuit case. He said “a large number of issues” in the Texas v. U.S. case “go beyond what is at issue in the [Fourth Circuit] appeal, such as whether the states, state and local agencies, and state officials that brought the suit were sufficiently harmed” by the guidelines.

“Granting review in [the Fourth Circuit case, Gloucester v. Grimm] wouldn’t resolve all those issues,” said Davidson, “so I don’t think the preliminary injunction in Texas v. U.S. puts pressure on the Supreme Court to hear the Gloucester case.”

Shannon Minter, NCLR’s national legal director, said he thinks O’Connor’s injunction will likely be stayed, noting that, in discussing the “plain meaning” of “sex” in federal law, O’Connor “completely disregards” Price Waterhouse. In that 1989 decision, a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination because of “sex” include discrimination against an employee based on expectations for an employee’s appearance and behavior based on their biological sex. (Notably, Justice Anthony Kennedy dissented.)

“This is a political case brought to make a political point,” said Minter. “The states don’t have any actual injury. They are just expressing their disagreement with the department’s view of the law, but that abstract disagreement is not a valid basis for a federal lawsuit. This is political posturing at the expense of a small group of vulnerable children.”

The Texas Tribune noted that Judge O’Connor issued a temporary injunction in March of last year to block enforcement of an Obama administration interpretation of the Family and Medical Leave Act that required states to provide to same-sex married couples the same benefits it provides to opposite-sex married couples. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton withdrew that lawsuit after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June of last year that state bans on marriage licenses for same-sex couples was unconstitutional.

© 2016 by Keen News Service

 

 

—  Tammye Nash

Ken Paxton files injunction against federal guidances protecting trans students

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

Texas AG Ken Paxton

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today (Wednesday, July 6) announced that Texas is leading a 13-state coalition asking for a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of “Obama’s bathroom rules.”

“Obama’s bathroom rules” refer to a list of guidances issued earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice to help school districts avoid discriminating against transgender students. Paxton and other right-wingnuts — including Chief Protector of the Bathrooms Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — insist that those guidelines, along with Fort Worth Independent School District’s comprehensive policy for interacting and protecting transgender students, put women and children in danger by allowing men to use the same public restrooms and locker rooms as long as the men/boys are willing to declare that they feel like a woman/girl that day.

Federal officials have noted that school districts that insist on discriminating against transgender people risk losing federal money because such discrimination violates Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools. Federal officials and federal courts have already determined that “sex” in this case means gender and includes anti-trans discrimination.

Paxton said, in his press release, “The nation’s schools, and every place of employment, are now in the crosshairs of the Obama administration, which maintains it will punish those who do not comply with its orders. Schools are facing the potential loss of funding for simply exercising the authority to implement the policies that best protect their students. Every employer is now being threatened for not bowing to anyone that identifies as the opposite sex.”

The press release then goes on to explain that the Obama administration is “attempting to rewrite Congress’ use of the term ‘sex’ in multiple federal lawsuits to now include ‘gender identity.’ If successful this radical change simultaneously opens up all intimate areas within schools and workplaces to members of both sexes.”

Chuck Smith, CEO of Equality Texas, issued this statement in response to Paxton’s motion for an injunction:

“Equality Texas condemns Attorney General Ken Paxton’s refusal to acknowledge the existence of 1.4 million Americans who are transgender, and his choice today to target the most vulnerable segment of that population — transgender kids.

“Attorney General Ken Paxton has already wasted millions of taxpayer dollars, discriminated against his fellow Texans with taxpayer money, and deprived thousands of Texans of their dignity and respect in a losing effort opposing the freedom to marry. Now, the attorney general has determined to waste millions more in an obviously futile attempt to prevent our transgender citizens, and in particular transgender kids, from being afforded the most basic dignity to use the bathroom, despite the fact that the Fourth Circuit and various government agencies have made the law clear.

“His actions undermine federal protections for gay and transgender children. In particular, this injunction seeks to punish transgender students protected by Title IX and the U.S. Department of Education to harm Texans who have done nothing wrong.

“The actions being initiated today by Paxton will ultimately fail, just as they did with marriage equality. Attorney General Ken Paxton shows an obsession with discriminating against the LGBT community. Statements already made by Paxton demonstrated a shameful animus towards the transgender community, which will ultimately lead the Supreme Court to declare all laws unconstitutional which relegate members of the LGBT community to a second class status. The U.S. Constitution will never uphold blatant discrimination against our citizens.”

Following is a list of the 13 states filing for the injunction. The number in parenthesis following each state’s name denotes where, as of 2015, that state ranked, nationally, in terms of the quality of their educational systems:

Texas (31st); Alabama (39th), Arizona (48th), Georgia (35th), Kentucky (10th), Louisiana (43rd), Maine (20th), Mississippi (45th), Oklahoma (34th), Tennessee (28th), Utah (16th), West Virginia (46th) and Wisconsin (4th).

(These numbers are the School System Quality Ranking of each, according to a study conducted by WalletHub and based on “13 key metrics that range from student-teacher ratios to standardized-test scores to dropout rates.”)

And by the way, Ken Paxton is the same one facing has been charged with two first-degree and one third-degree felony counts of violating state securities laws, and similar state charges, too.

—  Tammye Nash