4 GOP-led states sue administration over Title IX rules for transgender students

Four more Republican-led states sued the Biden administration Tuesday over new Title IX rules that bolster protections for LGBTQ students.

The Education Department in April unveiled a final set of sweeping changes to Title IX, the federal civil rights law preventing sex discrimination in schools and education programs that receive government funding. The new regulations, which are slated to take effect Aug. 1, cover discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time, angering some Republicans.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal district court in Topeka, Kan., attorneys general in Kansas, Utah, Wyoming and Alaska accused the Education Department and the Department of Justice of attempting to “politicize our country’s education system” by extending the law’s protections to transgender students.

The new Title IX rules could prevent schools from barring transgender students from using restrooms, locker rooms and pronouns that match their gender identity, a senior administration official said last month.

“Biden’s Department of Education has no authority to do what it is attempting to do,” Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach (R), who is leading the lawsuit, said Tuesday at a press conference at the state capitol in Topeka.

“It’s insanity,” he said. “Biden’s Title IX rule is unconscionable.”

Kobach added that the administration’s Title IX revamp, which also strengthens nondiscrimination protections for pregnant students and changes how schools handle claims of sexual harassment and assault, conflicts with a 2023 Kansas law prohibiting transgender women and girls from competing on female school sports teams, though the Biden administration has yet to finalize a separate rule governing athletics eligibility.

The proposal unveiled last year by the Education Department would prevent schools from adopting policies that categorically exclude transgender student-athletes from sports teams that match their gender identity, though high schools and colleges would still be able to limit participation on a case-by-case basis.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kansas, responding to Tuesday’s lawsuit, said Kobach “either inherently misunderstands the intent and impact of Title IX protections, or he purposefully misinterprets them.”

Kansas, Utah, Wyoming and Alaska are joined in the lawsuit by two conservative political organizations — Moms for Liberty and Young America’s Foundation — which are represented by Southeastern Legal Foundation and Mountain States Legal Foundation.

Republican governors, attorneys general and education officials across the nation have vowed to reject the administration’s Title IX rules for transgender students, which schools are required to follow as a condition of receiving federal funding. Former President Trump last week said he would issue an executive order reversing the new regulations “on day one” of his presidency if he is reelected in November.

Lawsuits filed by more than a dozen GOP-led states this month claim the administration’s update undermines existing nondiscrimination protections for students who are not transgender and incorrectly applies the reasoning of a 2020 Supreme Court ruling that protects employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity to Title IX.

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