Biden ‘undoing decades of women’s rights’ with changes to Title IX law

Mr Biden speaking at a union rally on Friday
Mr Biden, pictured on Friday, has angered Republicans with changes to Title IX - Mandel Ngan/AFP

Joe Biden has been accused by conservatives of undermining “decades of advancement and protection for women and girls” with new rules that aim to stop gender discrimination in schools and colleges.

The US government issued new rules on Friday to update Title IX, a 1972 law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding.

Mr Biden’s revisions mean that discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation is also banned under federal law – a move critics say will undermine protection for women in school bathrooms and on sports fields.

The rules have become a key battleground in the culture war between progressives and conservatives on gender identity.

Mr Biden had promised to provide federal protections for transgender athletes to participate in sports according to their chosen gender.

The update released on Friday does not explicitly deal with that issue, but does widen the scope of the rules to include discrimination against LGBTQ students.

LGBTQ activists protest in the Capitol of Texas last year
LGBTQ activists protest in the Capitol of Texas last year - Mikala Compton/AP

It makes it illegal to treat students differently based on their gender identity, a change which could be used to enshrine the right of transgender students to use their preferred bathroom or locker room.

At least 11 states currently restrict which bathrooms and locker rooms transgender students can use, banning them from facilities that align with their gender identity.

Many Republicans say Congress never intended such protections under Title IX, and accuse Mr Biden of replacing sex-based protections with “radical gender theory”.

Virginia Foxx, a Republican congresswoman and chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said: “The Department of Education has placed Title IX, and the decades of advancement and protections for women and girls that it has yielded, squarely on the chopping block.

“This final rule dumps kerosene on the already raging fire that is [the] Democrats’ contemptuous culture war that aims to radically redefine sex and gender.”

Other conservatives suggested the rules could be used by transgender students to participate in school and college sports.

Virginia Foxx, a Repulican congresswoman, said the rule change put protections for girls and women at risk
Virginia Foxx, a Repulican congresswoman, said the rule change put protections for girls and women at risk - Jose Luis Magana/AP

“Today, the Biden administration redefined the definition of a ‘woman’,” said Tommy Tuberville, a Republican senator from Alabama.

“The final rule published today requires schools to allow biological boys to participate in activities and clubs designated for girls.”

Betsy DeVos, who served as education secretary in Donald Trump’s administration, suggested the new rules could be challenged in the courts.

The Biden administration’s radical rewrite of Title IX guts the half-century of protections and opportunities for women and callously replaces them with radical gender theory, as Biden’s far-Left political base demanded,” she said.

She added: “The American people reject this approach, and I fully expect that both the Congress and the courts will do the same in the weeks and months ahead.”

Changes will ‘strengthen LGBTQ rights’

Mr Biden’s officials say the rules will strengthen protections for LGBTQ rights in schools, and point to an updated process for dealing with sexual misconduct.

The new rules remove a Trump-era requirement that sexual harassment must be “objectively offensive”, and a stipulation that cases must be dealt with through live hearings, which critics say discourage complainants from coming forward.

Miguel Cardona, the education secretary, said the rules make “crystal clear that everyone can access schools that are safe, welcoming and that respect their rights”.

“No one should face bullying or discrimination just because of who they are, who they love. Sadly, this happens all too often,” he said.

The American Council on Education, which represents higher education institutions, praised the new guidelines, but criticised a deadline of Aug 1 for schools and colleges to comply with them.

The timeline “disregards the difficulties inherent in making these changes on our nation’s campuses in such a short period of time”, the group said.