Education , Culture & the Family

Ray Carter | May 7, 2024

Oklahoma lawsuits challenge Biden’s Title IX rewrite

Ray Carter

Attorney General Gentner Drummond has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s rewrite of federal Title IX rules that adds “gender identity” to the law, effectively meaning a law intended to protect women’s rights will now instead protect the rights of men to enter women’s bathrooms and other private spaces if the men claim to identify as women.

Filed in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Oklahoma, the suit says the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) under Education Secretary Miguel Cardona “ignores the literal text of the statute and the purpose behind the creation” of Title IX law, “disregards the lack of public support for the proposed rule,” and “jeopardizes the equal opportunity that has been afforded to female athletes ever since the establishment of the statute.”

On April 19, the Biden administration announced it was issuing regulations to dramatically rewrite federal Title IX law.

As originally passed in 1972, Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs and activities at schools and colleges that receive federal funds.

But under the Biden administration’s regulatory rewrite of the law, which is set to take effect on Aug. 1, Title IX will now target many women with the threat of sexual-harassment investigations if they object to the presence of males in bathrooms and locker rooms.

In a May 15 public comment sent to the U.S. Department of Education, Drummond noted that since its passage in 1972, Title IX law has provided “equality for students in athletics” and “recognized the natural differences between men and women.”

In contrast, Drummond wrote, the Biden administration’s regulatory rewrite of Title IX law “flips this fifty (50) year achievement on its head.” He wrote that the Biden administration regulations would jeopardize “the equal opportunity that has been afforded to female athletes ever since the establishment of the statute.”

Drummond wrote that implementation of the Biden administration’s regulations “would serve to isolate and deny the group of athletes that the statute was originally designed to promote and protect—female athletes. It will oust female athletes from opportunities to play on sports teams, while those spots and positions will be occupied by biologically born males. It will create an unfair level of competition, while overlooking the female athletes’ privacy and safety.”

The state’s complaint echoes many of the comments submitted by Drummond to the U.S. Department of Education.

Drummond’s complaint states that federal Title IX’s “safe-harbor for ‘separate’ male and female facilities ‘would be rendered meaningless’ if ‘sex’ did not refer to a male-female binary based on physiological differences.”

The state lawsuit also notes that the Biden administration regulations would preempt existing Oklahoma state law that prevents boys from participating in girls’ athletic events at public schools and a law that limits access to public school bathrooms based on sex.

A second state lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s Title IX rewrite has been filed by the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE). That lawsuit raises many of the same issues included in Drummond’s lawsuit.

“Oklahoma schools are placed in a dilemma of bad options,” the OSDE complaint states. “Adhere to the Constitution and risk the loss of federal, school funding. In the alternative, both students and faculty risk damage to their respective futures for refusal to comply.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters said the lawsuit is the first filed by a state department of education in the country.

“The Biden administration has weaponized the federal Department of Education to trample girls’ sports, to end protections that Title IX provided for women to make sure that girls can use the bathroom in a girls’ restroom without boys walking in, without boys walking into girls’ showers,” Walters said. “The Biden administration is at war with women. They are at war with common sense.”

Oklahoma joins a growing list of states that are challenging the Biden administration’s Title IX rewrite in federal courts.

A complaint filed by Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina notes, “The challenged rule redefines ‘sex’ to include ‘gender identity’ and ‘sexual orientation,’ declares unlawful longstanding policies requiring individuals to use bathrooms matching their biological sex, and upends the foundation of women’s sports. All illegal.”

A complaint filed jointly by Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, and Idaho calls the Biden administration rewrite “an affront to the dignity of families and school administrators everywhere, and it is nowhere close to legal,” and states that the rewrite “does extraordinary violence to Title IX.”

“Forcing a young girl to change clothes in front of a boy or man in a locker room is entirely antithetical to the dignity and respect that Title IX was intended to preserve and advance,” the four-state complaint states. “So, too, is forcing children of opposite sexes to share adjoining stalls in the traditionally private space of a bathroom. These are not close questions.”

A Texas complaint declares that the Biden administration rules create “protections for an ever-fluctuating number of gender identities and sexual orientations, which individuals can allegedly change at any time, anywhere, and for any reason,” and therefore “undermines Title IX’s original sex-based protections.”

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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