Organization Trends

Title IX Turned Upside Down

Imagine if the current administration tried to pass laws reinstating all the worst evils of the Jim Crow era. To add insult to injury, imagine if they used a perversion of civil rights law itself to do so, altering the law so that the landmark legislation is turned on its head. Even worse, in a final ruthless decision, imagine if the laws are made more discriminatory against blacks and minorities than they were before the civil rights era. As outlandish as this made-up scenario sounds, this is essentially what the Biden administration has done to women’s rights with their changes to Title IX.

Title IX

Let’s back up and give the context. Title IX is the landmark federal civil rights law enacted in 1972. Under Title IX, “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.” While this was meant to protect women from discrimination in all areas of publicly funded educational institutions, it is most known for the swift changes it brought to high school and college athletics for females. Under the new Title IX law, females were granted equal access and funding for their sports programs, which were historically underfunded compared to male sports programs.

Fifty years later, the number of girls participating in school sports went from around 300,000 to 3.5 million in 2019. Few today would argue against the original intentions of Title IX laws, which were themselves piggybacking on the sweeping Civil Rights Act of 1964. Most of the country welcomed the change, and there hasn’t been much pushback until recently.

Subverting Title IX

Fast forward to today, and ironically, new Title IX regulations are the catalyst to undo the work the law initially aimed to protect. The proposed revisions to Title IX unveiled by the Biden Administration would include gender identity as a protected class against sex discrimination. This means that states like Florida and Iowa will be in federal violation if they do not allow transgender students to use the bathroom or locker room of their choice or to participate in sports teams that align with their gender identity.

So, the very laws meant to protect women against discrimination and uplift female sports in our schools and universities are now being subverted and used to place biological men in women’s sports, effectively destroying women’s sports in the process. Even worse than that, the law meant to protect women is now used to force our nation’s girls to allow biological boys into their bathrooms and locker rooms! If you could somehow go back in time and tell women in 1972 that the Title IX laws would be turned upside down, they’d think you were describing an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Under the new regulations, sex discrimination would include discrimination based on gender identity as well as sexual orientation, and that is the key. Previously, the law stated that a school must not separate or treat people differently based on sex (except in limited circumstances). But now, under the new provisions, schools cannot separate or treat people differently based on gender identity. Both critics and advocates of the change say that the new rules would allow biological boys into female locker rooms and bathrooms. Of course, teachers unions, like the National Education Association (NEA), have been trumpeting the changes as a way to “create safe, welcoming schools for all students.” Safe and welcoming, eh? Tell that to the teenage girls having to undress in front of biological males in high school locker rooms.

Conservative states had previously pushed back against the modern transgender fad. Tennessee, Kansas, Florida, Iowa, North Dakota, Alabama, Kentucky, and Arkansas all have laws that limit which bathrooms transgender students can use, keeping biological boys who now identify as girls out of women’s sports. The states also require parental notification if their child is identifying as transgender at school. Some of these states, including Florida, have laws that protect teachers from being disciplined for not using the preferred pronouns of their nonbinary and transgender students. These laws are now under threat with the recent changes to Title IX. This is a massive blow against states rights and their control over their public educational system.

The Coming Showdown

Where do we go from here? No doubt we are in for a showdown between states like those listed above who wish to protect female students from biological men in women’s locker rooms, bathrooms, and sports on the one side and the federal government, along with the largest teachers unions, on the other. Court cases are inevitable. Left-leaning federal judges will quickly bang the gavel finding states that try to protect women in violation of the updated Title IX. Some conservative states would likely press forward to defend our girls, even in defiance of a federal judge? Or maybe they’ll pursue another creative solution? Florida has already said it will not comply with the changes. Let’s hope for the sake of all the daughters of this country they find the courage to stand against this neo-misogyny and protect the original intention of Title IX.

Kali Fontanilla

Kali is serving as CRC’s Senior fellow, particularly focusing on topics related to K-12 public education. She has 15 years of experience as a credentialed educator working in public and…
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