Judge’s order restricts enforcement of rule protecting LGBTQ+ students

High school students, family members and advocates rally for transgender rights in a government building.
Kansas high school students, family members and advocates rally for LGBTQ+ rights earlier this year in the statehouse in Topeka.
(John Hanna / Associated Press)
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Enforcement of a federal rule expanding antidiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ students has been blocked in four states and a patchwork of places elsewhere by a federal judge in Kansas.

U.S. District Judge John Broomes suggested that the Biden administration must now consider whether forcing compliance remains “worth the effort.”

Broomes’ decision this week was the third against the rule from a federal judge in less than three weeks but more sweeping than the others. It applies in Alaska, Kansas, Utah and Wyoming, which sued over the new rule. It also applies to a Stillwater, Okla., middle school that has a student suing over the rule and to members of three groups backing Republican efforts nationwide to roll back LGBTQ+ rights. All of them are involved in one lawsuit.


Broomes, an appointee of former President Trump, directed the three groups — Moms for Liberty, Young America’s Foundation and Female Athletes United — to file a list of schools in which their members’ children are students so that their schools also do not comply with the rule. Kansas Atty. Gen. Kris Kobach, a Republican who argued the states’ case before Broomes last month, said that could be thousands of schools.

Supporters of the measure said that schools were infringing on “parental rights” by supporting students’ gender identity.

May 28, 2024

The Biden administration rule is set to take effect in August under the Title IX civil rights law passed in 1972, barring sex discrimination in education. The Biden administration has said the rule does not apply to athletics.

Broomes’ order is to remain in effect through a trial of the lawsuit in Kansas, though the judge concluded that the states and three groups are likely to win.

Opponents of the rule have framed the issue as protecting women and girls’ privacy and safety in bathrooms and locker rooms.

LGBTQ+ youth, their parents, healthcare providers and others say restrictions on transgender youth harms their mental health and make an often marginalized group even more vulnerable. The Department of Education has previously stood by its rule, and President Biden has promised to protect LGBTQ+ rights.

The Department of Education did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Besides Broomes, two other federal judges issued rulings in mid-June blocking the new rule in 10 other states. The rule would protect LGBTQ+ students by expanding the definition of sexual harassment at schools and colleges and adding safeguards for victims.


Like the other judges, Broomes called the rule arbitrary and concluded that the Department of Education and its secretary, Miguel Cardona, exceeded the authority granted by Title IX. He also concluded that the rule violated the free speech and religious freedom rights of parents and students who reject transgender students’ gender identities and want to espouse those views at school or elsewhere in public.

Broomes said his 47-page order leaves it to the Biden administration “to determine in the first instance whether continued enforcement in compliance with this decision is worth the effort.”

Hanna writes for the Associated Press.