A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked enforcement of two Biden administration guidelines protecting LGBTQ people in schools and workplaces from discrimination, ruling in favor of 20 state attorneys general who claimed in a lawsuit that the guidelines violated states’ rights.

The move comes amid a wave of moves by conservatives to restrict LGBTQ rights that have alarmed liberal activists as the battle for transgender rights comes to the political forefront.

The two guidelines, which apply to educational institutions receiving federal funding and most employers, would have expanded protections for transgender people to use restrooms and locker rooms in schools and at work and to join sports teams that match their gender identity.

The states in question argued that the guidelines would have put them at risk of losing significant federal funding due to their existing laws.

“Defendants’ counsel directly interferes with and threatens the plaintiff states’ ability to continue to enforce their laws,” U.S. District Judge Charles Atchley Jr. of the Eastern District of Tennessee wrote in his ruling.

“Their sovereign power to enforce their own legal code is stymied by the publication of the Defendants’ Guidelines and they face substantial pressure to change their state laws accordingly,” he added.

States represented by attorneys general include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia. . All of these states have Republican-controlled legislatures, except Alaska, where a cross-party coalition leads the House of Representatives.

The administration’s guidelines, issued by the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), followed a 2020 Supreme Court ruling that a provision on civil rights called Title VII, which prohibits discrimination in employment because of sex, among other categories, includes discrimination. on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The White House, Department of Education and EEOC did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Washington Post.

The June 2021 Department of Education guidelines said such discrimination would be treated as a violation of Title IX, a 1972 federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education, and could result in penalties for schools, colleges and universities. That month, the EEOC explained in its own guidelines what would constitute discrimination against LGBTQ people in the workplace and how members of the public can file a complaint.

Last month, on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the administration proposed sweeping changes to the law that would ban educational institutions from discriminating against transgender students and change guidelines on how institutions treat transgender students. complaints of sexual assault and harassment. The Department of Education must finalize this rule before it can enforce these protections, and the comment period for the rule extends through September.

Atchley wrote that the injunction will remain in place “pending the final resolution of this matter,” or until further orders are issued by the district court or higher courts.

Sweeping changes to Title IX would protect trans students and survivors of abuse

The Biden administration, in extending federal protections to LGBTQ students, exercised authority that “properly belongs to Congress, the states, and the people,” according to the attorneys general who filed the complaint.

“Defendants would be permitted to use ‘fear of future sanctions’ to force ‘immediate compliance’ with the impugned directives,” Atchley wrote, which he said would cause the states in question “significant hardship.”

He agreed with state attorneys general that the Department of Education, in a lawsuit in West Virginia, attempted to enforce his guidelines by filing a statement of interest claiming that Title IX prohibits the state to prevent transgender girls from participating in women’s athletics.

According to a CNN analysis of data from the American Civil Liberties Union, 2022 marks a peak year for laws targeting LGBTQ Americans. As of July 1 this year, at least 162 bills have been introduced in 35 states targeting LGTBQ people – more than double the number expected in 2020 and a higher number so far this year than the 151 bills. legislation being considered in 2021, CNN said. The majority of these bills target transgender and non-binary people, including around issues of restroom use, athletic participation, school curricula, and identification documents.

10 anti-LGBTQ laws have just come into force. They target all schools.

Intersex youth also impacted by anti-trans laws, advocates say

Earlier this month, other laws went into effect in Indiana, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah restricting the sports activities in which transgender students can participate. In July, an Alabama law limiting discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools and preventing transgender students from using restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity also came into effect.

The lawmakers who introduced these measures argued that they were intended to protect children, promote fairness in sports and other areas and, as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (right) said , to push back “the woke ideology of gender”.

Liberal activists have spoken out against laws they say seek to erase LGBTQ people and communities from the American cultural narrative. Amid a national mental health crisis in schools, the issue is particularly prominent, they say, increasing the risk of social isolation, depression and suicide among LGBTQ students.

Schools struggle to meet growing mental health needs, data shows

Some clinicians insist on mental health care for children who question their gender