Did Biden Revoke Title IX?

On Friday, Joe Biden’s Department of Education released its final rule amending the regulations that implement Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. What is it all about? This is how the Department of Education described the changes:

The Department therefore issues these final regulations to provide greater clarity regarding: the definition of “sex-based harassment”; the scope of sex discrimination, including recipients’ obligations not to discriminate based on sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity;

Many conservatives have denounced the new rules. Betsy DeVos, who served as Secretary of Education in the Trump administration, said:

The Biden administration’s radical rewrite of Title IX guts the half-century of protections and opportunities for women and callously replaces them with radical gender theory, as Biden’s far-Left political base demanded. The American people reject this approach, and I fully expect that both the Congress and the courts will do the same in the weeks and months ahead.

Riley Gaines, who has done more to stand up for women’s sports than anyone else, tweeted this:

Is it true that Biden’s regulations effectively dismantle Title IX? I don’t know. I tracked down the regulations themselves, thinking that I could read them and answer that question for our readers. But it turns out that the regulations are 1,505 pages long. And every elementary school in America is supposed to follow them. I don’t have time to read them all, and neither does anyone else.

Do the regulations say that men must be allowed to compete in women’s sports? That is what Riley Gaines thinks, and she may be right. Title IX prohibits sex discrimination, while the new regulations prohibit discrimination on the basis of “gender identity,” which is precisely the opposite. “Gender identity” means a boy pretending to be a girl. So that provision could mean that boys must be allowed to shower with girls if that is their “gender identity,” a fraudulent concept.

On the other hand, the Department says that another set of regulations dealing specifically with athletics will be forthcoming before long:

The Department’s rulemaking process is still ongoing for a Title IX regulation related to athletics.

So maybe it is premature to attribute too much significance on that issue to the regulations that were released last week.

In all likelihood, leftists will seize on the “gender identity” language of the regulations and sue school districts, alleging that their 15-year-old boy must be allowed to shower with the girls on those days when he feels like one. That is the insane point to which our current “culture wars,” launched by the far left, have brought us. Betsy DeVos expresses confidence that our courts will not allow Title IX to be gutted by far-left interpretation (or, rather, rewriting). I hope she is right.

But, finally getting to my real point, I think this instance illustrates the peril of passing feel-good legislation with broad language and no clear object. This is what Title IX says:

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…

Certainly no one who voted for Title IX intended that this one-sentence provision would be interpreted to mean that boys must be admitted to the girls’ locker room (the converse never happens), or that mediocre male athletes must be permitted to compete as girls and win medals. The people who adopted Title IX would have been horrified by any such suggestion, if they could even have imagined it.

And were girls actually being discriminated against in education as of 1972? Not that I recall. In fact, Title IX didn’t cause the explosion in women’s participation in every aspect of academia, including but not at all limited to sports. Rather, it reflected what was already happening. Congress was getting on board the bandwagon. If Title IX didn’t exist, would things have fallen out much differently? I doubt it.

But the broad language of that provision, amenable to endless interpretation and re-interpretation by bureaucratic leftists, has been a launching pad for left-wing attacks on our culture. The same could be said of many other pieces of feel-good legislation, but that is a topic for another day.

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