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Louisiana School Board Takes On Biden Admin Over Radical Title IX Rule Changes

The Rapides Parish School Board is standing up to the Biden administration as it endangers women and girls by redefining ‘sex’ in Title IX.
Alliance Defending Freedom
Desks are seen in a classroom

Congress enacted Title IX in 1972 to protect opportunities for women in education and extracurricular activities like athletics. Since 1972, Title IX has been effective in furthering that pursuit. More women have earned high school and college diplomas, and more schools have begun offering women’s sports in addition to men’s sports.

Unfortunately, the Biden administration has radically rewritten Title IX and threatens to reverse this progress by depriving students—and particularly women—of opportunities and compromising their privacy and safety. One public school board, the Rapides Parish School Board in Louisiana, is challenging the administration in court.

Biden administration’s new rule turns Title IX on its head

During his time in office, President Joe Biden has led a wholesale effort to redefine the word “sex” in Title IX to include “gender identity.” Even though the Supreme Court explicitly said in its Bostock v. Clayton County decision that “transgender status” and “sex” are “distinct concept[s],” President Biden falsely declared that Bostock changed the meaning of all federal law banning sex discrimination to include gender identity “so long as the laws do not contain sufficient indications to the contrary.”

He also ordered all executive branch agencies to adopt this misguided view, and on April 29, 2024, the Department of Education issued a rule doing just that.

The new rule states, in part, that Title IX applies to “discrimination against an individual based on sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity.”

In practice, this radical new definition of “sex” in Title IX will threaten girls’ athletics and allow males who identify as female (and vice versa) to enter sex-specific private spaces like bathrooms and showers and participate in sex-specific education. This would make it impossible for schools to “accommodate the interests and abilities” of girls and women, as Title IX requires.

Rapides Parish School Board is harmed by the new Title IX rule

Rapides Parish School Board is directly affected by the Biden administration’s redefinition of “sex” in Title IX because the school board has multiple policies protecting women and girls that don’t fit under this new definition.

For example, Rapides Parish does not allow boys to enter girls’ locker rooms and restrooms, participate in girls’ physical education classes, or room with girls during overnight field trips. In addition, the school board has a policy requiring any search of a student’s person to be performed by a teacher or administrator of the same sex as the student.

Under the Biden administration’s reinterpretation of Title IX, though, Rapides Parish would have to change these policies to allow males who identify as female to enter girls’ private spaces, room with girls on field trips, and more. The new rule would also likely allow a male student to be searched by a female teacher, or allow a female student to be searched by a male teacher.

But such changes would violate the school board’s policies about the importance of biological sex and could open the school board up to liability.

In addition to the school, the new rule also violates the rights of teachers. For instance, the rule could require teachers to refer to students by inaccurate names and pronouns that do not match their sex. Forcing teachers to lie to children like that violates the conscience rights of teachers.

Redefinition of ‘sex’ conflicts with Louisiana’s Fairness Act

The Biden administration attempted to dodge the issue of women’s sports by stating that schools are still allowed to maintain separate “male and female athletic teams.” But this caveat does not protect women’s sports.

While schools are allowed to have designated teams for girls, the administration has made clear that “gender identity discrimination” falls under its definition of “sex discrimination.” In other words, even if a school has a designated team for females, it must allow a male athlete to participate on the team if he identifies as female. And in case the new rule left any doubt, the Biden administration recently argued in another Alliance Defending Freedom case, B.P.J. v. West Virginia State Board of Education, that Title IX requires schools in West Virginia to allow a male athlete to compete on the girls’ sports team.

As a result, the Title IX rule directly conflicts with Louisiana’s Fairness Act, which states that “[a]thletic teams or sporting events designated for females, girls, or women shall not be open to students who are not biologically female.”

The school board wants to comply with the Louisiana law, as has always been its practice. Furthermore, the Fairness Act is consistent with Title IX’s text and purpose. But under the Biden administration’s redefinition, which contradicts Title IX’s text, sports cannot be uniformly designated by sex, and the federal government has the authority to preempt Louisiana’s law. If the school board chooses to follow Louisiana law, the district could be excluded from federal funding and liable to civil lawsuits.

For all of the above reasons and more, ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Rapides Parish School Board.

Rapides Parish School Board v. Cardona

  • April 2024: After the Biden administration enacted a new rule redefining “sex” in Title IX to include “gender identity,” ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit challenging it on behalf of the Rapides Parish School Board.