Republicans look to reverse new transgender student protections

More than 60 House Republicans are mounting a challenge to a Biden administration rule expanding federal nondiscrimination protections for transgender students.

The Education Department in April unveiled a final set of sweeping changes to Title IX, the civil rights law preventing sex discrimination in schools and education programs that receive government funding. The new rule, which is slated to take effect Aug. 1, covers discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time, angering some on the right who say the administration’s interpretation of the decades-old law degrades existing protections for women and girls.

The administration’s Title IX revamp would also bolster nondiscrimination protections for pregnant students and change how schools handle claims of sexual harassment and assault.

At least 65 House Republicans on Wednesday signed onto a disapproval resolution seeking to reverse the new rule, which they said conflicts with the original purpose of Title IX.

“This divergence is a blatant violation of the protections Title IX was meant to guarantee, and it undermines the very foundation of women’s rights and security in their private spaces,” Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.), who is leading the joint resolution, said in a news release.

The Education Department declined to comment on the joint resolution, saying it does not comment on pending legislation.

“The Department crafted the final Title IX regulations following a rigorous process to give complete effect to the Title IX statutory guarantee that no person experiences sex discrimination in federally-funded education,” an Education Department spokesperson said.

Although Title IX is a federal law, each administration takes a different approach to enforcing its regulations, which schools are then required to follow as a condition of receiving federal funding. Former President Trump last month said he would reverse the Biden administration’s rule “on day one” of his presidency if he were reelected in November.

Republican governors, attorneys general and education officials in states across the country have vowed to reject the Biden administration’s interpretation, and school districts have been instructed to ignore the law’s expanded protections for transgender students, despite the risk to government funding. Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) in May threatened legal action against the Biden administration “for any financial loss, including funding” that comes from school districts refusing to implement the new rule.

Lawsuits filed by more than 20 Republican-led states allege the administration’s Title IX rule undermines federal nondiscrimination protections for students who are not transgender and incorrectly applies the reasoning of a 2020 Supreme Court decision protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity to Title IX.

The lawsuits, most of which were filed in conservative jurisdictions, are expected to succeed in at least temporarily blocking the new regulations from taking effect this summer.

The Biden administration has yet to finalize a separate rule governing athletics eligibility. The proposal unveiled by the Education Department last year would prohibit schools from enacting policies that categorically ban transgender student-athletes from sports teams that match their gender identity, with some exceptions.

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, panned House Republicans’ resolution Wednesday as a “cruel continuation” of GOP-led attacks against the LGBTQ community.

“Reversing Biden’s Title IX rule will undermine the Education Department’s ability to protect LGBTQI+, pregnant, and parenting students from discrimination and support survivors of sexual violence,” Pocan told The Hill in an emailed statement. “You expect bullies in school, but once again, House Republicans are punching down and trying to stigmatize LGBTQI+ and other minority students by repealing these critical nondiscrimination protections.”

House Republicans this Congress have introduced more than 70 disapproval resolutions that aim to reverse rules instituted by the Biden administration, though only seven passed the House and just five were sent to President Biden, who vetoed them.

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