11 states sue US government over transgender bathroom policy

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Texas Plans To Sue Obama For 'Trampling' The Constitution

May 25 (Reuters) - Officials from 11 U.S. states sued the Obama administration on Wednesday, seeking to overturn a directive from the federal government that public schools should allowtransgender students to use the bathroom matching their gender identity.

Ramping up the simmering battles over contentious cultural issues in America, the states, led by Texas, accused the federal government of rewriting laws by "administrative fiat."

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"Defendants have conspired to turn workplace and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights," the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit accused the federal government of overstepping its constitutional powers by taking actions that should be left to Congress or individual states.

Amid a national debate on transgender rights, President Barack Obama's administration on May 13 told U.S. public schools that transgender students must be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice, upsetting Republicans and raising the likelihood of fights over federal funding and legal authority.

Nine of the 11 states are led by Republican governors.

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North Carolina transgender bathroom law
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11 states sue US government over transgender bathroom policy
DURHAM, NC - MAY 10: The 'We Are Not This' slogan is posted at the entrances to Bull McCabes Irish Pub on May 10, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. Debate over transgender bathroom access spreads nationwide as the U.S. Department of Justice countersues North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory from enforcing the provisions of House Bill 2 (HB2) that dictate what bathrooms transgender individuals can use. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
Elaine Martin, right, listens as Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, speaks during a press conference to announce filing of federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina's HB 2 law at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on Monday, March 28, 2016. Several different advocacy groups and some of the lead plaintiffs spoke at the event. (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
Joaquin Carcano, center, the lead plaintiff in the case, speaks during a press conference to announce filing of federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina's HB 2 law at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on Monday, March 28, 2016. Several different advocacy groups and some of the lead plaintiffs spoke at the event. Joaquin was born a woman and is now a man. Simone Bell with Lambda Law is at left; Chris Brook with the ACLU is at right. (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
TO GO AFP STORY BY BRIGITTE DUSSEAU - Transgender delegates Jamie Shier (L) and Janice Covington pose for photographs at the Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 4, 2012. The Democratic National Convention Committee announced Wednesday that US President Barack Obama would move his acceptance speech from the outdoor Bank of America Stadium to the indoor Time Warner Cable Arena due to predictions of thunderstorms. AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read BRIGITTE DUSSEAU/AFP/GettyImages)

The state of Texas is the lead plaintiff and was joined by Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah and Georgia, plus the Arizona Department of Education and the governor of Maine.

School districts from Texas and Arizona also joined the suit, which names the U.S. government and a host of federal agencies and officials as defendants.

Alison Gill, the vice chair of the Trans United Fund, a political advocacy group, said the states' challenge did not reflect the position of most school boards and administrators, who have come out in favor of the administration's order.

"This action puts students at risk for the sake of politics," Gill said.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said, "President Obama has no business setting locker room and restroom policies for our schools."

"School policies should be determined by individual states, educators and parents - not dictated by a presidential decree," added West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

Since Obama, a Democrat, took office in January 2009, Texas, the most populous Republican-controlled state, has filed suit against his administration more than three dozen times. Texas also is the lead state in the high-profile lawsuit against Obama's execution action to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation and provide them work permits that the Supreme Court is due to rule on by the end of June.

That suit accused Obama of exceeding his presidential powers at the expense of the Republican-led U.S. Congress.

Texas also has sued the federal government on issues including U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations, taxes under Obama's signature healthcare law and blocking the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state.

(Additional reporting by Joseph Ax and Daniel Wiessner; Editing by Will Dunham)

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