- Associated Press - Thursday, July 21, 2016

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Gov. Steve Bullock is criticizing Attorney General Tim Fox’s decision to sue over federal rules allowing transgender students to choose restrooms, saying school districts are better suited than a judge to respond to the requirements.

Montana and nine other states led by Nebraska filed a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration directive issued after North Carolina lawmakers passed a law banning a non-discrimination ordinance allowing transgender people to choose restrooms corresponding to their identities.

Bullock, speaking to reporters in Billings Wednesday, conceded the decision to sue was up to Fox, the Billings Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/2aeiKdO ) on Thursday. But the governor said he preferred leaving those decisions to individual school districts.

“I think local school districts can best figure out how to deal with the directive themselves, probably much better than being in federal court,” Bullock said.

Fox countered Thursday that the lawsuit’s purpose is to convince a judge that local school districts should be allowed to make their own decisions about transgender restroom use.

“That’s precisely what the lawsuit is advocating,” Fox said. “This lawsuit is about preserving local control of our schools.”

Bullock, a Democrat, and Fox, a Republican, are running for re-election.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau has also said the lawsuit wastes taxpayer money and that Montanans “believe in local control of our public schools and trust our educators to do the right thing for all students.”

Juneau, a Democrat, is running for Montana’s U.S. House seat against incumbent Republican Ryan Zinke.

The states suing the federal government claim the rules circumvent the law and supersede local school districts’ authority on student issues.

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Information from: The Billings Gazette, https://www.billingsgazette.com


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