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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Justice Department is considering its options, now that a federal judge in Texas has blocked an Obama administration order concerning transgender students in public schools.
The administration had said schools have to let those students use locker rooms and bathrooms consistent with their chosen gender identity. But a judge has put that order on hold -- saying that a federal education law makes it clear that gender is defined by "biological and anatomical differences" at birth.
Judge Reed O'Connor said his order, which applies nationwide, was not about the policy issues of transgender rights but his conclusion that federal officials simply did not follow the rules.
According to O'Connor, the case "presents the difficult issue of balancing the protection of students' rights and that of personal privacy ... while ensuring that no student is unnecessarily marginalized while attending school."
The ruling comes as most public schools in Texas begin the new school year today. Texas and 12 other states had challenged the directive as unconstitutional.
An attorney for a gay rights group says the ruling is a continuation of attacks on transgender people. Paul Castillo says it's "a hard day for transgender students."
185-v-32-(Ben Thomas, AP correspondent)--A federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked an Obama administration directive on bathroom rights for transgender students in public schools. AP correspondent Ben Thomas reports. (22 Aug 2016)
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APPHOTO TXBS201: FILE - In this May 17, 2016, file photo, a new sticker designates a gender neutral bathroom at Nathan Hale high school in Seattle. A federal judge in Texas is blocking for now the Obama administration's directive to U.S. public schools that transgender students must be allowed to use the bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) (22 Aug 2016)
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APPHOTO TXAUS301: FILE - In this May 25, 2016, file photo, Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announces Texas' lawsuit to challenge President Obama's transgender bathroom order during a news conference in Austin, Texas. A federal judge in Texas is blocking for now the Obama administration's directive to U.S. public schools that transgender students must be allowed to use the bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity. Paxton had argued that halting the law before school began was necessary because districts risked losing federal education dollars if they didn't comply. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP) (22 Aug 2016)
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