Image Credit: State Representative John Ragan / Facebook
The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –
State Representative John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge-District 33) who co-chairs the Joint Government Operations Committee in the Tennessee General Assembly sent letters at the end of last month to 11 state universities challenging them for publishing false statements that implied that LGBTQ+ students are a protected class under Title IX.
Title IX is the landmark law, passed 50 years ago, that banned sex discrimination in all federally funded K-12 schools and college education programs and sports. The Biden administration announced earlier this year that they intended to rewrite the scope of Title IX to include gender identity and sexual orientation without the approval of congress.
”We have laws on our books which are in fact against what the department of education was putting out in their guidance,” said Ragan, referring to a directive from the U.S. Department of Education instructing public institutions to provide protections for LGBTQ+ individuals.
A Tennessee District Court has since ruled that the Department of Education cannot require universities to provide these protections. The July ruling stopped Tennessee and several other states from implementing actions related to the LGBTQ+ community and Title IX. State universities had already crafted policies, and made entries on their websites to comply with the Federal Department of Education’s directive.
Upon reviewing the websites of some of the publicly funded state universities, Ragan found “some concerning issues” in their policy statements. He sent the letter to ensure that all concerned parties were aware of the recent court decision.
East Tennessee Federal District Court Judge Charles Atchley decision enjoins and restrains the federal government from implementing the Department of Educations orders. While the decision may yet be appealed, it agrees with the states that are challenging the new interpretation of Title IX, arguing that the directives “improperly expand the reach of Bostock.”
Bostock v. Clayton County is a 2020 Supreme Court ruling upon which the Department of Education is basing its expanded Title IX protections. In that ruling, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a 6-3 decision that prohibits discrimination against anyone based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
Speaking to News Channel 11, Ragan said that he wants state universities to keep Title IX and LGBTQ+ separate even if Atchley’s decision is overturned and the courts rule that the U.S. Department of Education can withhold funding from schools that don’t comply with the expanded protections.
“They threatened to withhold funding if they (universities) didn’t do something,” Ragan said, citing the Department of Education. “That is not an order. In fact that comes quite close, frankly, to coercion and maybe blackmail in the vernacular parlance.”
Ragan says that the 10th Amendment should provide protection to universities.
“The federal government does not have the power under our U.S. Constitution to run states,” Ragan said. “It’s been a long held Supreme Court tenet that the federal government cannot force states to enforce federal law, hence we have something called sanctuary cities scattered around the country. And we also have the Supreme Court cases that the federal government cannot tell states how to spend state tax dollars.”
About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org.