Biden administration rule will tie education funding to LGBT mandates | Local

An upcoming rule change from the Biden administration will tie billions of dollars in federal education funding to a range of LGBT policies, forcing school districts and universities to implement controversial rules on issues such as athletes transgender people in order to receive federal funding.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said this month it would change how it interprets Title IX prohibitions on sex discrimination “to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. gender”.

This change means that schools accepting any type of funding, including students receiving FAFSA or Pell grants or students receiving federally subsidized school lunch funding, will be subject to the new LGBT interpretation of Title IX.

“As a result, state and local agencies, program operators, and sponsors who receive FNS funds should investigate allegations of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation,” the USDA said in a statement. a statement. “These organizations should also update their policies and non-discrimination signs to include prohibitions against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.”

This means that schools across the country will be required to comply with a series of pro-transgender policies in areas such as athletics, housing, locker rooms and bathrooms if they wish to continue receiving federal funds. The effort began when President Joe Biden issued an executive order almost immediately after taking office.

Since then, the administration has publicly defended those policies, but the rule change officially released later this year would codify that policy.

“Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to restrooms, locker rooms or school sports,” the White House said when issuing the order in January last year. .

Sarah Perry, legal expert at the Heritage Foundation, said the rule change would also remove recently added due process protections for students accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault, which could be particularly important if dishonest people are redefined to be included in the harassment category. .

Failure to use an individual’s preferred pronoun could also result in legal issues for schools and universities under Title IX amendments.

“A third [change] which is not said and will not appear in the new rule but will have implications it will essentially be a muzzling of free speech for people who for example don’t toe the party line on gender identity and will be forced … to use an individual’s identity preferred pronouns or potentially face Title IX sex discrimination charges,” Perry said. “So it’s not just going to require adhering to those beliefs. It’s going to force speech. It’s going to force speaking in violation of the First Amendment, and we haven’t even fully considered the parameters of how that’s going to play out yet. in the courtroom…”

Some schools are allowed to use a religious exemption to certain rules like those set by the administration, but experts say it’s unclear whether the Biden administration will honor those exemptions or challenge them, which would likely lead to a legal battle.

The Biden administration said in its announcement that it was a push for “fairness and justice.”

“The USDA is committed to administering all of its programs with fairness and equity, and to serving those in need with the highest dignity,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “A key step in promoting these principles is to eradicate discrimination in all its forms – including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Other critics, however, say girls will be victimized by this policy change when schools are required to allow trans girls to use female-only facilities, such as bathrooms, changing rooms and dormitories, claiming it violates their privacy and opens them up to sexual assault.

They also argue that it will harm female athletes and take away their sporting opportunities. Many trans women have quickly risen to dominance in their respective sports after not having had the same success against men.

“This will not only have a significant impact on the privacy, safety and security of women and girls, but also on the fairness and equity of women to be able to participate in school athletics, whether at the level K-12 or at the college level,” Perry said, adding that these rule interpretation changes “would change the face of American education if approved and released, and that’s no exaggeration.”

The athletics question came to a head earlier this year when trans athlete Lia Thomas, who was born male, handily beat Olympic silver medalists Emma Weyant and Erica Sullivan in the NCAA 500-yard style championship free in March.

Opponents of the upcoming rule change point to these types of losses as examples of injustice and say they are taking away scholarship opportunities from women and giving them to recently transitioning athletes.

“Lia has clear male athletic advantages – advantages that testosterone suppression cannot erase and female athletes cannot achieve, no matter how hard they train,” said Jennifer Braceras, director of the Independent. Women’s Law Center. “It’s not fair, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association knows it.”

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