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Iowa among GOP states challenging federal rules protecting transgender students



FILE - Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters on May 17, 2022, in Prairie City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall File)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Seven more Republican-led states sued Tuesday to challenge a new federal regulation that seeks to protect the rights of transgender students in the nation’s schools. Republican plaintiffs call the effort to fold protection for transgender students under the 1972 Title IX law unconstitutional.

The lawsuits filed in federal courts in Missouri and Oklahoma are the latest GOP attempts to halt the new regulation seeking to clarify Title IX, a landmark 1972 sex discrimination law originally passed to address women’s rights and applied to schools and colleges receiving federal money. The rules spell out that Title IX bars discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, too.

Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota joined as plaintiffs in the Missouri lawsuit.

The cases come as many Republicans seek to limit the rights of transgender youth, including restricting which bathrooms or pronouns they can use in school. Such prohibitions that could be invalidated by the new federal regulation. The GOP states suing argue that the new federal rules goes beyond the intent of Title IX and that the Biden administration doesn’t have the authority to implement them.

“The interpretation of the Biden administration is completely inconsistent with the statute and the way it’s been interpreted for decades,” Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin said at a news conference with Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey.

The federal regulation applies to all schools that receive federal funding. The latest filings bring to at least 21 the number of GOP states challenging the new rules. Officials in several states, including Arkansas, have said they don’t plan to comply with the regulation.

The U.S. Department of Education said it does not comment on pending litigation.

An Arkansas high school athlete, Amelia Ford, also joined the Missouri case, saying she doesn’t believe transgender women should be allowed to compete on women’s sports teams.

The Biden administration’s new rules broadly protect against discrimination based on sex, but they don’t offer guidance around transgender athletes. Most of the states challenging the regulation have laws restricting what teams transgender athletes can play on.

Lawsuits also have been filed in federal courts in Texas, Alabama, Louisiana and Kentucky. The multiple challenges give the states suing a better chance that one of the cases will put the rule on hold nationally.

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