Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

School board slated to support lawsuit over new gender identity rules

Tuesday meeting includes resolution to back state against Title IX changes
Caleb Daniel
Monday, May 13, 2024
Article Image Alt Text

The Lincoln Parish School Board is poised to formally support Gov. Jeff Landry and the state education department in their lawsuit against the federal government over new rule changes that ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

On April 29 Louisiana, along with 17 of its school districts, joined the states of Mississippi, Montana and Idaho in filing suit against the U.S. Department of Education over newly issued rules under Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.

These new rules expand the definition of sex discrimination to apply to, among other things, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Supporters say the change protects the rights of transgender students in state-run schools. But these states and school districts say the new rules would threaten women’s rights and the privacy of their students.

“Boys and girls will be forced to share bathrooms, locker rooms, and perhaps even lodging on overnight field trips with members of the opposite sex,” reads the lawsuit, written in part by Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill. “Adding insult to injury, they will be forced to use ‘preferred pronouns’ or else face punishment...”

Lincoln Parish did not join as a plaintiff in the suit, but on Tuesday the school board is slated to vote on a largely symbolic resolution expressing its support for the state’s position.

The special called meeting begins at 5 p.m. at the board’s central office on South Farmerville Street.

“We support fighting (the rule changes),” board President Gregg Phillips said. “We support our biological females as they compete in athletics, and that they have a separate locker room and bathroom.”

While Title IX governs all aspects of education as it pertains to sex discrimination, the impact on athletics from these changes has drawn the most attention.

Opponents of the changes say they contradict Louisiana’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, a law passed in 2022 that requires schools to specify whether each of their sports is for only biological males, biological females, or both sexes, based on students’ birth certificate.

State Education Superintendent Cade Brumley has been a vocal opponent of the rule changes and has advised local school districts to hold off on enforcing them.

“We support the idea that the 2022 state law should be supported and honored,” Phillips said. “This is an action to express solidarity with Mr. Brumley.”

About 1.3% of Louisiana students age 13-17 identified as transgender in 2022, according to a report from UCLA. That’s 4,000 students.

Though instances of transgender athletes in state-run schools are few and far between, sports has become a national battleground between LGBTQ rights advocates and those who argue such concessions erode the rights of biological women. 

Phillips said Lincoln Parish schools already provide “reasonable accommodations” for students based on gender identity when needed.

He said the state extended the opportunity for any school district to join the suit as a plaintiff but gave only a 3-day window to opt in, and the board decided it needed more time to explore the issue.