After Comment Period Ends, Here’s How Americans Responded To Biden’s Proposed Title IX Changes

Multiple activist organizations, a number of Republican lawmakers, parents, and educators weigh in on concerns regarding Biden's provisions to Title IX.

By Kari Apted | Published

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The Biden Administration’s Title IX proposals to keep schools free from sex discrimination have generated controversy across the nation. Although many admit not knowing exactly what the proposals include, they’re a step closer to becoming regulations now that educators, lawmakers, advocacy groups, and individuals have shared over 200,000 comments on the topic. Opinions were gathered on the Federal eRulemaking Portal over a two-month period between July and September 2022, with results reflecting a divide over certain aspects of gender equity.

The Title IX regulations in question offer protection from discrimination against LGBTQ and pregnant students and employees. Many feel that the current Title IX regulations must be amended to provide clarity over the full scope of sexual discrimination including sexual orientation and gender identity. A separate rulemaking process will be launched to address transgender students’ rights on campus and participation in school athletics programs.

Prominent groups supporting the Title IX proposals include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Association of Title IX Administrators (ATIXA), and AASA, The School Superintendents Association. In a public comment, AASA voiced concerns over the burden unfunded training mandates will place on school districts. “As we reflect on yet another regulatory framework for Title IX in a span of less than 3 years, we are deeply concerned by the expansiveness of the new regulation and the unfunded mandates it places on districts to comply with the revised regulations.”

AASA suggested that the Education Department add in-person and virtual training resources to its regional centers and allow ample time for school districts to implement the regulations. ATIXA disagreed with the Education Department’s estimate that the proposals would lead to a 10% increase in annual Title IX investigations, stating that a 50% increase was a more realistic number.

“…some of our members are already reporting their numbers are up over last year,” the organization said. “Case management needs may skyrocket given the proposed changes and the likely increase in reporting.” Commenters who oppose the Title IX changes accused the Education Department of overreach and questioned the constitutionality of the proposals.

Others expressed issues with how the new rules single out LGBTQ students for special protections. This included teachers being allowed to keep parents in the dark over gender identity issues that transpire at school. Multiple comments stated, “While parents across the country are demanding the rejection of ‘woke’ policies, the Department of Education instead has chosen to hijack Title IX to force gender ideology on children without their parent’s knowledge or approval.”

In a letter that was later submitted as a comment, 34 Republican Congress members asked Education Secretary Michael Cardona to withdraw the proposal, calling it a violation of free speech, religious freedom, and the rights of women and parents. The lawmakers wrote, “The Proposed Rule will only make it harder for school officials to protect children, as child predators and those who are intending to cause harm to children could use these policies to gain access to private spaces such as bathrooms or locker rooms. The Proposed Rule should be clear that under Title IX, sex is biological and binary.”

Title IX

The new regulations also address the definition of sexual harassment, expanding it to include harassment based on sex characteristics, sex stereotypes, pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The controversial “Pass the Trash” loophole in the current Title IX rules allows teachers accused of sex crimes to simply relocate to another school. With the new proposals, all sexual harassment and abuse investigations would be made public, but schools could still settle cases without a trial if all involved parties agree.

Title IX is a 50-year-old civil rights law, part of the Education Amendment of 1972, and applies to public schools and educational programs that receive funding from the federal government. As it stands, enforcement has been in the hands of parents or students who report school officials for engaging in discriminatory acts. The new proposals will allow schools to investigate and sanction misconduct without the requirement for victims to issue formal complaints.