Judge Blocks Biden’s Expanded Title IX Protections for LGBTQ+ Students in Four States

Judge Blocks Biden’s Expanded Title IX Protections for LGBTQ+ Students in Four States

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration’s new Title IX rule, which expands protections for LGBTQ+ students, has been temporarily banned in four states after a federal judge in Louisiana determined that it exceeded the Education Department’s power.

In a preliminary injunction issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty described the new rule as a “abuse of power” and a “threat to democracy.” His injunction prevents the rule from being implemented in Louisiana, which challenged it in April, as well as Mississippi, Montana, and Idaho, who joined the lawsuit.

The Education Department defended the rule and stated that it is evaluating the judge’s order.

“The Department stands by the final Title IX regulations released in April 2024, and we will continue to fight for every student,” the department stated in a statement.

The Louisiana complaint is one of at least seven supported by more than 20 Republican-led states that oppose Biden’s regulation. The regulation, which goes into effect in August, expands Title IX civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ students, broadens the definition of sexual harassment in schools and colleges, and increases safeguards for victims.

Doughty, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, is the first judge to strike down the order. It is a significant blow to the new protections, which were welcomed by civil rights activists but criticized by opponents who claim they violate the spirit of Title IX, a 1972 legislation that prohibits sex discrimination in education.

Louisiana is one of several Republican states that have legislation forcing people to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their given sex at birth, preventing transgender kids from using facilities that correspond to their gender identification. President Joe Biden’s regulation conflicts with these laws and claims to supersede them.

The Louisiana lawsuit claimed that the new rule would force schools in four states to pay millions of dollars to renovate their buildings. In his conclusion, the judge described it as a “invasion of state sovereignty” and ruled that the states were likely to win on the merits of the case.

His order states that the provision likely violates free speech rules by compelling schools to use pronouns requested by kids. It also disputes the Biden administration’s legal power to extend Title IX to LGBTQ+ students.

“The Court finds that the term ‘sex discrimination’ only included discrimination against biological males and females at the time of enactment,” Doughty stated in his ruling. The judge was concerned that the law might oblige schools to allow transgender women and girls to compete on female sports teams. Several Republican states have legislation that prohibit transgender girls from competing on girls’ teams.

The Biden administration suggested a second rule that would prohibit such blanket bans, but it stated that the recently enacted rule does not apply to athletics. However, Doughty believes it may be taken to extend to sports.

“The Final Rule applies to sex discrimination in any educational ‘program’ or ‘activity’ receiving Federal financial assistance,” he stated. “The terms ‘program’ or ‘activity’ are not defined but could feasibly include sports teams for recipient schools.”

Judges in at least six other instances are considering putting a similar stay on Biden’s regulation. The Defense of Freedom Institute, a right-leaning nonprofit that supported the Louisiana lawsuit, praised Doughty’s order.

“We are confident that other courts and states will soon follow,” said Bob Eitel, the nonprofit’s president and an education official in the Trump administration.

Biden issued the new rule after repealing another set by Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos. That decision restricted the definition of sexual harassment and provided additional protections for students accused of sexual misbehavior.

On Thursday, DeVos hailed the Louisiana ruling as a triumph, claiming that Biden’s “anti-woman radical rewrite of Title IX is not only crazy but also illegal as per nbcnews.com.

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