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Red States Reject ‘Gender Ideology’ in Title IX Updates

The Biden administration has updated Title IX to cover sexual orientation and gender identity. Officials in red states are suing to block what they call “gender ideology.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking at a 2023 Lincoln Day dinner.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says that the Biden administration’s broadening of Title IX has no place in his state.
Scott Olson/TNS
In Brief:
  • The Biden administration has updated Title IX to make it easier to report offenders and protect LGBTQ students.

  • At least 22 states have sued, expressing concern about how the rules will apply to transgender students and staff.

  • Supporters of the changes argue they will not only benefit LGBTQ individuals but make it easier for all victims of sex discrimination to report offenses.

  • At least 22 states are suing the U.S. Department of Education over its recently updated guidelines for Title IX. Republican state attorneys general accuse the department of overstepping its authority and forcing conservatives to follow ideas about gender and sexuality that cut against their beliefs.

    In many of their statements, they also express concern that the new rules will harm the very people Title IX was created to protect: women and girls. “By attempting to redefine sex to include gender identity and sexual orientation in Title IX,” Iowa GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement, “President Biden is marginalizing girls and women.”

    In Texas, one of the first states to sue over these proposed changes, state Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed a similar sentiment. “Texas will not allow Joe Biden to rewrite Title IX at whim, destroying legal protections for women in furtherance of his radical obsession with gender ideology,” Paxton said.

    Other states aren’t even waiting for the courts to decide if the proposed Title IX rules are illegal. In Florida, GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the state “will not comply” with the new rules. Cade Brumley, Louisiana’s state superintendent of education, sent a letter to school boards recommending that they hold off on implementing the new rules.

    Beyond Sex and Gender

    Transgender students were first protected from sex-based discrimination under Title IX under the Obama administration. Under President Donald Trump, protections for LGBTQ students were removed, while it became more difficult for all students to report potential code of conduct breaches.

    In 2020, shortly after those changes were made, sociologist Nicole Bedera complained that this “not only places new barriers in the way of survivors coming forward,” but made it nearly impossible for most victims to report campus sexual harassment.

    The Biden administration now seeks to restore and expand standards to make it easier to report sex-based discrimination, including sexual harassment and assault, regardless of the victim or perpetrator’s identities.

    Advocates for student rights such as Andrew Davis, a student organizer with Know Your IX, argue the update will go a long way to protecting students. “These new rules are really just trying to explicitly name LGBTQ+ folk and include them within the existing protections for students and survivors,” Davis says. “I really see this rule as a really modest rule. It’s not radical at all, and really is just trying to group in LGBTQ+ students with every other student.”

    Supporters argue that these rules have the potential to strengthen protections for all students — including the women and girls Republicans believe will be put at risk if Biden’s Title IX rules go into effect this August.

    The updates are also receiving support from education advocates such as Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who says she hopes they will “re-instill faith in the Title IX process.”
    Zina Hutton is a staff writer for Governing. She has been a freelance culture writer, researcher and copywriter since 2015. In 2021, she started writing for Teen Vogue. Now, at Governing, Zina focuses on state and local finance, workforce, education and management and administration news.
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