The period for public comment regarding President Biden’s update to Title IX rule ended this weekend, but officials say a “clerical error” has caused hundreds of thousands of responses to disappear.
The Biden administration proposed new regulations on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools, to expand the protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Supporters say the new interpretation will ensure greater equality in employment for LGBT workers. Critics have warned that it could mean new mandates on hiring, accommodations and compulsive use of “preferred pronouns.”
Biden’s Title IX proposals include changes to former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos‘ 2020 due process rules, which was the previous record holder for public comments. Her changes “weakened protections for survivors of sexual assault and diminished the promise of an education free from discrimination,” the Biden White House charged.
The Defense of Freedom Institute for Policy Studies recently released a study highlighting what they called the “Dirty Dozen Defects” of the draft. The “defects” the group said has fired parents up most are those that would require schools and colleges to allow biological males to compete in girls’ sports and use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their “gender identity.”
Monday marked the last day of the public comment period for the Title IX proposals. Public comments discussing the proposal totaled almost 350,000 last Tuesday in the Federal Register.
By Friday, however, the total was reduced to 184,009, Politico first reported. Officials told reporters that a “clerical error” at the Department of Education had accidentally “boosted” the number of comments to the original 350,000.
The disappearance of comments on the government website did not come without warning. The government explicitly reserved the right to not make a given comment available to the public, stating, “Please note that while everyone can comment, not every comment is made publicly available to read. Agencies have the option of whether or not to post comments to [the government site].”
Title IX, which was passed into law in 1972, prohibited sex-based discrimination in schools that receive federal funding. It stated that “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.”
Fox News’ Kelsey Koberg and Cortney O’Brien contributed to this report.