Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen released a formal letter against President Biden’s attempts to change Title IX protections on Monday.
In March 2021, Biden signed an executive order that outlined plans to review Title IX regulations which previously prohibited sex-based discrimination in any school or education program. By June 2022, on the 50th anniversary of Title IX’s original establishment, the Biden administration proposed new regulations that will “strengthen protections for LGBTQI+ students who face discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Among proposed regulations included a new focus on transgender students’ participation in sports as well as new changes to former education secretary Betsy DeVos’ 2020 due process rules.
Several parents’ groups and political figures criticized the proposed changes including Knudsen who released a new multi-state letter against the administration.
“For the first time in history, regulations regarding sexual harassment under Title IX were codified into law. The Department has not presented sufficient evidence that the current Title IX system requires modification. In many instances, moreover, the Department’s Proposed Rule conflicts with the text, purpose, and longstanding interpretation of Title IX. It also negatively impacts free speech, academic freedom, and campus life,” the letter read.
In April, Knudsen originally led 14 states in threatening legal action against the Biden administration for proposals to change Title IX regulations in regard to women’s sports. Knudsen’s letter highlighted similar issues regarding the potential threat to female athletes.
“In turn, the Department’s definition of discrimination will actually discriminate against female athletes by denying them equal athletic opportunity and endangering their safety. Forcing female athletes to compete against male athletes is unfair and ignores science. Biological differences between males and females mean that girls and women are at an enormous disadvantage when competing against biological men. This also puts women and girls at greater risk of injury when competing against biological males in contact and combat sports,” the letter read.
Monday also marked the final day of the public comment period for Biden’s Title IX proposals. As of Sunday, the proposals received a record-number of comments with over 184,000 responses, several which were critical of the potential effects.
“The Proposed Rule’s inclusion of gender identity in its definition of sex discrimination will harm students and violate Title IX. Single-sex spaces, such as bathrooms and locker rooms, are important for students to preserve bodily privacy and personal dignity from exposure of one’s body to members of the opposite sex. This would fall especially hard on young females because in addition to privacy and dignity harms, girls and women are vulnerable in intimate spaces to being sexually harassed and even assaulted by boys and men,” Knudsen wrote.
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) was among many groups that also attacked the new proposals, particularly for their efforts to circumvent parental rights.
“Even more pernicious, the Proposed Rule would federally coerce schools to indoctrinate children into gender identity theories that are heavy on political asperity and light on scientific corroboration. This would require everyone in the school environment to accept that being a boy, girl, both, or neither is only a matter of subjective identity. Under this Proposed Rule, schools would have to treat any skepticism of ‘gender identity’ as discrimination/harassment, which would effectively override the fundamental rights of parents to rear their own children in matters of reason, morality, and faith,” Knudsen explained.
The attorney general also attacked proposals to roll back due process regulations which many fear could limit an accused perpetrator’s right to defense.
“As a result, due process protections are a critical part of a Title IX. Fair grievance procedures benefit of both complainants and respondents, as well as recipients. Both parties benefit from equal opportunities to participate by setting forth their own views of the allegations. Everyone benefits from processes geared toward reaching factually accurate outcomes. The grievance process prescribed in the current regulations provides a fair process rooted in due process protections that improves the accuracy and legitimacy of the outcome for the benefit of both parties. Any Title IX grievance procedure mandated by the Department must comport with due process guarantees as well as fundamental fairness,” the letter noted.
Regarding the comments against the new Title IX proposals, Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon released the following statement to Fox News Digital:
“We appreciate each of the commenters for taking the time to share views about the proposed amendments to the Department’s Title IX regulations. We look forward to reviewing each and every comment to help inform the development of the final regulations. The promise of Title IX remains as vital today as it has been over its five decades, and the Department is committed to its full and fair enforcement.”