Kansas Attorney General Sues Biden Administration Over LGBTQ+ Protections in Schools

Kansas Attorney General Sues Biden Administration Over LGBTQ+ Protections in Schools

Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach stated on Tuesday that he is suing President Joe Biden’s administration over the revision of federal laws aimed at protecting LGBTQ+ schoolchildren.

Alaska, Utah, and Wyoming joined Kansas in filing the case, which comes after the US Department of Education issued new guidelines in April prohibiting discrimination in federally financed schools.

The amended Title IX standards, which take effect August 1, clearly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Under the change, LGBTQ+ children who suffer prejudice will be entitled to a response from their school as well as the ability to seek federal government intervention.

Kobach claimed that the change would violate teachers’ and school staff’s First Amendment rights, as their religious convictions would prevent them from complying with the law.

“It’s insane,” Kobach explained. “Biden’s Title IX policy is unconscionable.” It’s unsafe for girls and women, and it violates federal law.”

In a news conference Tuesday, Kobach emphasized his claim that transgender athletes should not compete in women’s sports. In 2023, Kansas politicians passed legislation restricting transgender student-athletes from competing in girls’ and women’s sports. The state statute may contradict the new federal guidelines, while the federal change does not specifically mention transgender athletes.

“I can certainly tell you that if any of my girls are competing in sports against boys, that is going to make me very unhappy,” added Kobach.

The question is whether cisgender and transgender girls should play together. When asked about his use of the term “boys” to describe transgender girls and women, as well as whether he respected transgender identity, Kobach stated that while people have the right to change their appearance and presentation, “the bottom line is that they can’t change the structure and other advantages that males gain.”

“Anyone who observes sports and observes the competition by these biological males in female sports has seen the obvious unfairness of it,” Kobach stated. “The thought that someone should be punished or canceled for simply stating what they have seen is quite distressing. It’s Orwellian if someone is fired or punished merely for expressing their beliefs.”

Melissa Stiehler, an advocacy director for Loud Light, a Kansas-based nonprofit dedicated to LGBTQ+ rights and social issues, questioned Kobach’s motivations.

“During his career, Mr. Kobach’s actions and legal theories have yet to show that he has the best interest of women and our legal protections at heart,” Stiehler stated. “Kobach has actively fought to deny constitutional rights to Kansas women. With my experience confronting difficulty as a woman, I wholeheartedly encourage the AG to recognize that transgender children deserve protection from sex-based discrimination, just as I did as a girl attending public school. Protection for transgender children does not undo the progress that women and girls have made toward achieving equity.”

Kobach is one of several attorney generals in conservative states who have rushed to dispute the verdict after the amended rules were published. Kobach was joined by legal lawyers from Alliance Defending Freedom during the news conference. ADF is renowned for promoting anti-LGBTQ+ policies.

Civil rights supporters reject legal challenges to anti-discrimination laws.

“Kobach claims to be standing up for women and girls,” said Micah Kubic, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Kansas section. “But what he is doing is continuing his decades-long crusade against our shared values and fundamental rights, using his misleading legal interpretations to try to transform the law into a tool that persecutes Kansans instead of protecting them.”

Reporters questioned Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly about Kobach’s lawsuit following an unrelated press conference on Tuesday.

“I wish that we would focus on issues that really make a difference in Kansans’ lives,” Kelly stated. “I would suggest that that makes a difference in very few people’s lives, and not in a good way.” Kobach’s lawsuit is the latest in a string of anti-transgender movements. In 2023, lawmakers passed legislation prohibiting alterations to gender markers on driver’s licenses and birth certificates.

During this legislative session, politicians renewed an effort to prevent teenagers from obtaining gender-affirming care, such as hormones and puberty blockers. Senate Bill 233 would also have prohibited state personnel from promoting “social transitioning,” which was defined as the use of preferred pronouns. A Republican-led effort to override Kelly’s veto failed narrowly in the House.

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