Multiple States Sue Over Biden Title IX Rule

Republican governors say their states will not comply.

Image: President Joe Biden during his 2024 State of the Union address  Image Credit: WhiteHouse.gov

By Bethany Blankley [The Center Square contributor] –

Several Republican attorneys general have sued over the Biden administration’s Title IX rule change, arguing it is illegal. More states are expected to follow.

The lawsuits come after the Biden administration’s Department of Education rewrote the Title IX statute to expand the definition of “sex” to include “gender identity.”

Title IX, which is part of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Title IX was created to prohibit discrimination against women in all educational programs that receive federal money, including K-12 schools, colleges and universities. The new rule redefines biological sex and requires schools to allow men and boys, claiming to be women and girls, respectively, to use female-only facilities and join female-only sports or lose federal funding.

The lawsuits were filed after Republican governors and state education commissioners last week said their states would not comply.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was among the first to speak out, saying, “Florida rejects [president] Joe Biden’s attempt to rewrite Title IX. We will not comply and we will fight back. We are not going to let Joe Biden try to inject men into women’s activities … undermine the rights of parents and … abuse his constitutional authority to try to impose these policies on us here in Florida.”

On April 25, Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr., sent a letter to all superintendents and charter school leaders stating, “at Governor Ron DeSantis’ direction no educational institution should begin implementing any changes. Instead of implementing Congress’s clear directive to prevent discrimination based on biological sex, the Biden administration maims the statute beyond recognition in an attempt to gaslight the country into believing that biological sex no longer has any meaning.”

The same day, Oklahoma’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters also instructed Oklahoma schools not to comply, saying, “Biden’s re-write of Title IX is one of the most illegal and radical moves we have ever seen from the Federal Government. Oklahoma will not sit idly by while radicals trample on the Constitution and take away women’s rights. We are taking swift and aggressive action against Biden in his war on women.”

On Monday, Texas sued, arguing the rule is illegal. “Title IX does not apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. But even if those concepts were protected against discrimination by Title IX, the Final Rule’s provisions do not faithfully implement such protections because they mark as unlawful school policies that do not discriminate based on those concepts –  instead, the Final Rule requires schools to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity by allowing single-sex programs and facilities but requiring opposite-sex access to them for only those individuals with a transgender gender identity,” Texas’ 30-page brief states.

The lawsuit asks a district court in north Texas to postpone the effective date of the rule, Aug. 1, declare the rule unlawful and permanently enjoin the Department of Education from implementing it.

Gov. Greg Abbott instructed the Texas Education Agency to ignore Biden’s “illegal dictate.” He also wrote a letter to President Joe Biden, saying, “Title IX was written by Congress to support the advancement of women academically and athletically. The law was based on the fundamental premise that there are only two sexes – male and female. You have rewritten Title IX to force schools to treat boys as if they are girls and to accept every student’s self-declared gender identity. This ham-handed effort to impose a leftist belief onto Title IX exceeds your authority as President.”

Abbott said rewriting Title IX “tramples laws” that he signed to protect women’s sports in Texas. Last year, Abbott and multiple Republican governors signed bills into law to protect women’s and girls’ sports.

A coalition of four Republican attorneys general, led by Louisiana, also sued on Monday. Mississippi, Montana and Idaho joined Louisiana, arguing in their 43-page brief that the rule “is an affront to the dignity of families and school administrators everywhere, and is nowhere close to legal.”

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The lawsuit makes similar arguments as Texas’ and asks a U.S. district court in Louisiana to declare the rule is contrary to law, violates Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution, is an unlawful exercise of legislative power under Article 1 of the Constitution, is arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, and violates the Administrative Procedures Act.

Also on Monday, a second coalition of state attorneys general led by Alabama sued, including Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, who were also joined by several groups. In their 84-page complaint they also argue the rule is illegal and ask a U.S. district court to issue a preliminary and permanent injunction barring the rule’s enforcement. 

The lawsuits were filed after a coalition of 15 attorneys general led by Montana AG Austin Knudsen, called on the DOE in 2022 to cancel its plans to rewrite Title IX, The Center Square reported.

Knudsen argues the rule “could cost Montana taxpayers money in civil lawsuits and the possible loss of federal funding in states that seek to protect equal opportunities for women and girls. It would also harm victims of sex discrimination and violence, as Title IX is used in grievance procedures to produce a fair outcome.”

About the Author: Bethany Blankley is a writer at the Center Square, Patheos/Hedgerow, political analyst and former press secretary at Capitol Hill / NY / WDC. Follow Bethany on Twitter@BethanyBlankley.

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