Biden admin finalizes Title IX rule; adds ‘gender identity’ language

Miguel Cardona, Joe Biden, Loan forgiveness, Title IX
President Joe Biden speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, June 30, 2023, in Washington. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona listens at left. The Biden administration is moving forward on a new student debt relief plan after the Supreme Court struck down his original initiative to provide relief to 43 million borrowers. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

RALEIGH — The U.S. Department of Education has finalized its Title IX rule that were paused last June.

The new rule redefine sex by adding “gender identity” as a protected group, effectively opening the door for transgender women to play on women’s sports teams and use women’s spaces in schools.

“The rule prohibits discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics in federally funded education programs, applying the reasoning of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County,” per the U.S. Department of Education’s “fact sheet.”

Title IX was established in 1972 to protect women against discrimination based on sex in education. The law applies to all colleges and K-12 schools that receive federal money.

“For more than 50 years, Title IX has promised an equal opportunity to learn and thrive in our nation’s schools free from sex discrimination,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a press release. “These final regulations build on the legacy of Title IX by clarifying that all our nation’s students can access schools that are safe, welcoming, and respect their rights.”

“No one should face bullying or discrimination just because of who they are, who they love,” Cardona told media outlets, per The Associated Press. “Sadly, this happens all too often.”

The Biden administration’s new Title IX rules are meant to “clarify schools’ obligations,” per the fact sheet and other documents published by Cardona’s agency.

The rule was first proposed in 2022, and the Department of Education reviewed more than 240,000 comments, most in opposition to the changes.

Critics say Congress never intended these types of protections under Title IX, and in 2022 nearly two dozen states sued the Biden administration over the changes. The same year, in July, a federal judge blocked the proposed guidance.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC-05), chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, ripped the new regulation as threatening the decades of advancement for women and girls.

“This final rule dumps kerosene on the already raging fire that is Democrats’ contemptuous culture war that aims to radically redefine sex and gender,” Foxx said in a statement.

North Carolina State Superintendent Catherine Truitt fought back against the rules in a letter to Cardona in May 2023, calling attention to the intent of Title IX and to the inherent physical differences between male and female athletes.

“Under no circumstance can we assume that Congress, when crafting this important law forty years ago, fathomed a biological male playing competitive sports in an all-female league or competition at any level,” Truitt said in the letter to Cardona. “The current proposed rule from the Department of Education would undermine the intent of Title IX, which was to increase opportunities for female athletes.”

Former Trump Education Secretary Betsy Devos reacted in a post on X to Biden’s “radical re-write” of Title IX, stating, ”I never thought I’d see the day where Title IX would be used to harm women, but sadly, that day has come.”

Female athletes and women’s groups that oppose the changes quickly fired back at the new rules.

“The president and his administration can’t act like they care about women or our opportunities and then go and wipe out women’s protections under the country’s landmark sex equality law,” said Riley Gaines, a 12-time All-American swimmer out of the University of Kentucky with five SEC titles who is also a two-time Olympic trial qualifier.

Gaines — who has become a major opposition figure in the debate over transgender athletes — testified in North Carolina in support of the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which bars those considered biologically male or assigned male at birth to compete in women’s sports in the state. The bill passed into law after an override of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto.

“Title IX was passed over fifty years ago to end unjust discrimination in education, including athletics,” Gaines said. “I experienced this law (being) undermined when female athletes like myself were told to keep quiet when a male swimmer took home a title in the women’s division and deprived female athletes of awards, honors, and the opportunity to compete.

“With its new Title IX rewrite, the Biden administration is unilaterally erasing fifty years of equal opportunity law for women,” said Gaines.

The nonprofit group Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) slammed the move by the Biden administration, saying it strips away protections for women.

“This new rule turns Title IX on its head through extra-statutory regulations that require schools to allow males to self-identify into women’s spaces, opportunities, and athletics,” the IWF said in a statement

The IWF and the Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) are joining a coalition of organizations to sue the Biden administration to enjoin the action.

“Title IX was designed to give women equal opportunities in academic settings. It forbids discrimination on the basis of ‘sex,’ which it affirms throughout the statute is binary and biological,” May Mailman, the director of the IWLC said in a statement.

“The unlawful Omnibus Regulation re-imagines Title IX to permit the invasion of women’s spaces and the reduction of women’s rights in the name of elevating protections for ‘gender identity,’ which is contrary to the text and purpose of Title IX. Because this is illegal, we plan to sue.”

The new rules take effect Aug. 1, 2024, and will likely see additional legal challenges.

The Associated Press’ Colin Brinkley, along with Geoff Mulvihill, Annie Ma and Moriah Balingit contributed to this report.