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Nebraska's Doug Peterson joins other GOP AGs in suit over transgender rules
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Nebraska's Doug Peterson joins other GOP AGs in suit over transgender rules

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Doug Peterson

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard makes her Olympic debut in Tokyo on Monday, with the New Zealander's historic appearance igniting heated debate on one of sport's most divisive issues. The IOC says she is the first openly transgender woman to compete at the Games, hailing it as a landmark moment for the Olympic movement.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nebraska’s Doug Peterson joined 19 other state attorneys general in suing the Biden administration over rules regarding LGBTQ people, including the participation of transgender girls in school sports and the use of bathrooms by transgender people.

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery filed the lawsuit, arguing that rules recently issued by the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission go beyond a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The Supreme Court ruled in June 2020 that civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment.

In June, the Education Department said discrimination based on a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity will be treated as a violation of Title IX, the 1972 federal law that protects against sex discrimination in education. A legal analysis by the department concluded that there is “no persuasive or well-founded basis” to treat education differently than employment. The policy carries the possibility of federal sanctions if schools and colleges fail to protect gay and transgender students.

The education directive reversed President Donald Trump-era policies that removed civil rights protections for transgender students. In 2017, the Trump administration lifted President Barack Obama-era guidance allowing transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities.

At the time, then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said that the issue was “best solved at the state and local level” and that the earlier guidance led to a spike in lawsuits seeking clarification.

The new action does not reinstate the Obama-era policy but instead clarifies that the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights will investigate complaints of discrimination involving gay or transgender students. If the department finds evidence of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, it will pursue a resolution to “address the specific compliance concerns or violations.”

Also in June, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released guidance about what could constitute discrimination against LGBTQ people.

The lawsuit asks a judge to stipulate that schools and employers are allowed to have showers, locker rooms, bathrooms and living facilities separated by “biological sex;” that schools are allowed to have sports teams separated by “biological sex;” that workplace dress codes can be based on “biological sex;” and that schools and employers are not required to use a transgender person’s preferred pronouns.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment.

Joining Nebraska and Tennessee in the lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.

With its guidance, the Biden administration in part took a stand against laws and proposals in a growing number of states that would forbid transgender girls from participating on female sports teams. The attorneys general contend that the federal government is overstepping its authority and that such decisions reside at the local level.

The federal agencies noted that the workplace and education guidance documents do not carry the force of law. The attorneys general argued their states are at risk of the federal government enforcing the guidance, threatening their sovereign authority, causing significant liability and putting their federal education funding at risk.

In June, the DOJ filed statements of interest in lawsuits that seek to overturn new laws in two states. In West Virginia, a law prohibits transgender athletes from competing in female sports. Arkansas became the first state to ban gender-confirming treatments or surgery for transgender youth.


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Nancy Gaarder helps cover public safety and weather events as an editor on The World-Herald's breaking news desk. Follow her on Twitter @gaarder. Email: nancy.gaarder@owh.com

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