During a recent court case, a federal judge in Tennessee issued an order preventing two U.S. federal agencies from implementing new guidelines against discrimination in schools and workplaces.
President Joe Biden wasted no time in fulfilling his campaign promises to support the LGBTQ+ community. On his first day in office, he signed several directives that put an end to discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. One of the most notable directives protects transgender students in schools.
For its part, as surprising as it may be at this point, the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace under the provision known as Title VII in 2020. The court’s decision was a huge victory for our LGBTQ+ community. It was a huge step forward in the fight for equality.
In June 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance that follows the Supreme Court’s decision on LGBTQ+ rights. The guidance states that discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community is now forbidden by federal law. This means that, if you identify as LGBTQ+, your employer may not discriminate against you in any way. This includes everything from hiring and firing to pay and promotions.
The EEOC has also informed the public on how to file a complaint if they believe they have been the victim of discrimination.
In June 2021, the Department of Education also issued guidance that follows the decision of Biden’s administration. This guidance makes clear that LGBTQ+ individuals are protected from discrimination in education and that any violation would be treated as a violation of Title IX, the 1972 federal law that protects against discrimination in education.
In August 2021, a group of twenty attorneys general from various states filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration, claiming that its directives infringed on states’ rights to enact laws. The states involved in the lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia. The lawsuit alleges that the Biden administration has overstepped its authority by issuing executive orders and directives that pre-empt state laws.
A few days ago, a federal judge in Tennessee issued a temporary restraining order preventing the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from implementing these guidelines. In other words, he just gave a green light to discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.
You won’t be surprised to know that Judge Atchley was appointed by the Trump administration in 2020.
“The harm alleged by the Plaintiff States is already occurring — their sovereign power to enforce their own legal code is hampered by the issuance of Defendants’ guidance and they face substantial pressure to change their state laws as a result,” Atchley wrote. “The Court finds that Plaintiffs have shown a credible threat of enforcement. Plaintiffs highlight that private litigants are relying on Defendants’ guidance to challenge Plaintiffs’ state laws.”
Atchley also discussed the Department of Education’s involvement in a lawsuit regarding transgender girls and single-sex sports in West Virginia. He noted that the department filed a statement of interest in the case, taking the position that Title IX prohibits discrimination against transgender students.
The battle for LGBTQ+ rights is far from over. Despite the progress made in recent years, there are still those who are determined to fight against equality. The recent lawsuit filed by twenty attorneys general against the Biden administration and the temporary restraining order preventing agencies from implementing anti-discrimination guidelines show that there is still much work to be done. However, we must not lose hope - the progress made in recent years is proof that change is possible. We must continue to fight for LGBTQ+ rights and ensure that all individuals are treated with respect and equality.