March 3, 2017 / 4:30 AM / in 8 months

Eleven U.S. states to drop suit over transgender bathroom order

(Reuters) - Eleven U.S. states have agreed to drop a lawsuit against an Obama administration order for transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice after the measure was revoked by President Donald Trump, a court filing showed on Thursday.

An activist waves a rainbow flag during the "Queer and Trans Dance Party" in protest of U.S. President Donald Trump outside of Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 26, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Ornitz

In a filing in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. Justice Department said the states, led by Texas, had agreed to drop the lawsuit, and it was dropping its appeal against a federal judge’s August stay on the Obama directive.

In their suit in May, the states said Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration overstepped its authority by ordering public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms matching their gender identity, rather than their birth gender, or risk losing federal funding.

Obama officials had said that barring students from such bathrooms violated Title IX, the federal law that forbids sex discrimination in education.

But the directive enraged conservatives who say federal civil rights protections cover biological sex, not gender identity. Obama was succeeded by Trump, a Republican, when he left office in January.

Texas was joined in the lawsuit by Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The Arizona Department of Education, Maine Republican Governor Paul LePage and two school districts also were parties to the suit.

A federal judge in August barred adoption of the order during the hearing of the case. The Justice Department appealed the stay, saying it should only apply to the states challenging the order.

Last week, the Trump administration rescinded the order, leaving states and school boards to decide how to accommodate transgender students.

Other lawsuits about the rights of transgender students are being heard in the courts.

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on March 28 addressing the question of whether the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia can block a female-born transgender student from using the boys’ bathroom.

Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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