AMAC Exclusive – By Katie Sullivan
Last week, the comment period officially closed for the Biden administration’s sweeping rewrite of Title IX, a 50-year-old law that protects students, namely females, from discrimination on the basis of sex. More than 350,000 public comments were offered, most by conservative individuals and organizations concerned about what Biden’s butchering of Title IX would mean for parents’ rights, religious liberty, due process, and basic common sense. As many of these comments outline, Biden’s proposed changes not only violate the original spirit of Title IX, but they lay the groundwork for the further destruction of the entire American education system.
Title IX was enacted in 1972 to ensure equal opportunity for female students at all educational institutions which receive federal funds. A short and straightforward provision of the law, Title IX specifically states that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
In practice, when interpreted and invoked properly, Title IX has helped bring about more opportunities for women in education. Title IX is, for instance, the reason that colleges must provide a 1:1 ratio of athletic scholarships for male and female athletes, allowing more females the opportunity to compete in college athletics and receive a free or discounted education. It also set up basic protective measures for victims of sexual harassment or assault in schools.
In recent years, however, Democrats have sought to use Title IX as a vehicle to enact their radical social agenda – namely, foisting far-left gender ideology on nearly every school in the country. Instead of adhering to the original definition of “sex” as a protected class, the left has sought to expand it to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”
At first, this change was more subtle in nature. In 2016, for instance, the Obama administration issued a “Dear Colleague” letter that asserted gender identity fell under the category of “sex” in Title IX. The letter was careful to note, however, that the change was only “significant guidance” and did not carry the power of law. But for schools, the message was clear – accept this radical redefinition of “sex,” or expect the flow of grant money to stop.
In March of 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order entitled “Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity,” which formed the basis of his changes to Title IX. The Order mandates that the Secretary of Education adjust the current rules, regarding sexual discrimination in schools, to include “discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” going on to make the dubious legal pronouncement that “this guarantee is codified, in part, in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.”
In June, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona followed through on that order by releasing new regulations that would officially codify sexual orientation and gender identity under Title IX protections. That may sound fine in theory – after all, shouldn’t everyone be protected from discrimination? But in practice, the policy raises a number of serious concerns.
The changes would, for instance, require schools to treat biological males who identify as girls the same as biological females – including allowing them to use female restrooms and locker room facilities. Teachers and students will also presumably be forced to use students’ “preferred pronouns,” rather than those corresponding with a student’s biological sex. On overnight trips, male students identifying as female would be allowed to share rooms with female students, lest the school face a Title IX investigation. The new regulations also pose a serious threat to girls’ sports by mandating that every school now allow biological males to compete against females.
This future for education envisioned by the Biden administration is understandably a nightmare for those not on board with left-wing gender ideology and raises a number of troubling questions for parents. “What if I don’t support the concept of gender fluidity?” a parent might ask. “What if I want my child taught basic male/female biology, and not the left’s re-invention of the term? What if, based on religious beliefs, I want my children to use only “he” pronouns for males and “she” pronouns for females? Will they now be punished for discrimination under Title IX for “misgendering” someone? Will my daughter now be kicked out of college for refusing to room with a biological male who identifies as a female?
For the Biden administration, however, removing parents from the equation is an intentional feature of the new regulations. The proposed amendments change the definition of parent for purposes of discrimination under Title IX, despite Congress taking no such action. In addition to biological parents and stepparents, the Biden administration includes “custodian or guardian, in loco parentis with respect to such person or [someone] actively seeking legal custody, guardianship, visitation, or adoption of such person.” In loco parentis means “in [the] place of a parent” or “instead of a parent.” It refers to the legal responsibility of some person or organization to perform some of the functions or responsibilities of a parent. In this case, it is educators and school administrators who may act “in place of the parent” in instances of perceived violations of harassment based on gender identity.
Even now, under the current regulations, educators have repeatedly shown they are eager to push the “gender identity” curriculum without the consent of parents. In Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for example, school administrators announced last year that teachers would no longer inform parents when a student requests to be called by a different name or pronouns than those assigned at birth. Another school district in Fayetteville, Arkansas, recently developed a “gender communication” curriculum that asks each student to develop a “Gender Support Plan” – one which may or may not include parental involvement.
While concerned citizens have shed light on this practice in their local schools, and Arkansas has enacted laws that protect parents’ rights, the Biden administration’s proposed Title IX amendments are written to supersede all state laws. The Biden Department of Education could also withhold federal funding from any state which does not comply with their regulations.
While teachers, administrators, and counselors will be obligated to affirm a child’s preferred gender identity at school, that same obligation does not extend to parents. Thus, your child could be transitioning to a “gender identity” that does not align with their biological sex while at school without parental knowledge. School officials will also now have the authority to report any parent who objects to “gender identity” activities as constituting potential harm to the child by way of a presumption that preventing a student from participating in educational programs or activities consistent with their gender identity subjects the child to harm. It is inevitable, then, that if a parent upholds biological reality and refuses to assist the educators in supporting gender fluidity or identity, the parent can be, and perhaps under the proposed rule must be, reported to child protective services for the presumed harm to the child.
Under cover of a law that was designed to promote female advancement, Biden is paving the way for the destruction of female spaces and protections in education while also trampling parents’ rights to know both what schools are teaching their children and basic information about their kids – like if teachers plan to start referring to their biological son as a girl, or vice versa. Biden’s complete acquiescence to radical gender ideologues when it comes to education policy is yet another example of a president who promised to be a moderate but is instead pursuing the most far-left agenda in American history.
Katharine “Katie” Sullivan was as an Acting Assistant Attorney General and a senior advisor to the White House Domestic Policy Council under President Trump. She previously served 11 years as a state trial court judge in Colorado.
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