The Biden administration has proposed legislation to change facets of Title IX of the Education Amendments. Proposed changes will include “stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity.” Title IX was first signed into law in 1972. The 50-year-old law bars discrimination based on sex in education programs that receive federal funds.
The proposal will negate certain facets of former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ policies on how universities, colleges, and K-12 schools investigate sexual assault on campus. Devos previously ruled that Title IX would apply to sexual assault under the parameters of biological sex. However, a 2021 executive order from President Biden changed those parameters of sex to include “gender identity” and transgender students. In 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that workplace discrimination protections in the Civil Rights Act will be extended to include gay and transgender people.
Biden’s new proposed legislation would reinstate regulations that were discontinued during the Trump administration. The new proposal will include broader definitions of sexual orientation to strenghten the rights of LGBTQ+ students.
The proposed change has resulted in backlash due largely in part to the proposed sanctions that will be imposed on schools that restrict students’ eligibility to participate on a particular male or female sports team. However, the department said it would issue a separate regulation on how Title IX applies to athletics, including what criteria schools can use “to establish students’ eligibility to participate on a particular male or female athletic team.”
Conservative groups including Moms for Liberty have stood firmly against the change. “We think it really is the erasure of women in general,” co-founder Tiffany Justice said. The Parents Defending Education group wrote a letter to explain their disappointment. “We represent parents, grandparents, and concerned citizens across the country who are worried that the forthcoming rule changes are a politicized effort to placate activists,” they wrote. “Sweeping changes to Title IX that you are reportedly set to announce would erode the very rights that protect all students – regardless of sex – and ensure a safe and equitable learning environment.”
There is growing concern about how this change will cover athletics, particularly in lieu of transgender athletes like Lia Thomas gaining prominence in women’s sports. Thomas was the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I national championship. The governing body of world swimming decided to ban transgender women from competing in women’s events earlier this month. Instead, they adopted a new “gender inclusion policy” to allow swimmers who transitioned before the age of 12 to compete.