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Supreme Court of the United States

Former Obama Education Official is Back And Poised to Pick Up Where She Left Off

By Natalie Allen posted on:
November 3, 2021

If you’ve been watching the news, you’ll know that Congress has been very busy lately. While it can be hard to sort through everything Congress is up to, there is one recent Senate action that should not slip through the cracks: the Senate’s confirmation of Catherine Lhamon to serve as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education.

Catherine Lhamon’s confirmation to this position is cause for concern because of how she operated the last time she held this position, under the Obama Administration.

During her tenure, she led the charge on policies that allowed males to enter girls’ private spaces , violated the free speech and due process rights of students , and encouraged harassment of religious schools .

Consider these troubling actions that Lhamon took during her previous stint and it’s easy to see why we should be alarmed by her return:

1. Lhamon was responsible for the Obama Administration’s infamous 2016 “Dear Colleague” letter , which redefined “sex” in Title IX to include gender identity. This opened the door—figuratively and literally—for males to share private spaces with girls at schools and to compete against girls in sports. In a committee hearing about her nomination a few months ago, Lhamon reaffirmed her stance on this distressing and harmful policy.

2. Lhamon issued a guidance letter that resulted in the denial of due process to many students and the violation of students’ free speech rights . This letter urged schools to crackdown on “unwelcome speech” and to hear complaints in quasi-judicial procedures on campus. Thankfully, the Trump Administration implemented regulations that rescinded this guidance, but with Lhamon back at the helm, it seems almost certain that she will repeal the Trump regulations and revert to her previous guidance.

3. Lhamon was behind the publication of the list of religious schools that sought religious exemptions from Title IX—ultimately resulting in what became known as the “shame list.” After the Obama Administration expanded Title IX’s coverage to include gender identity, several religious schools with sincerely-held beliefs about marriage and sexuality applied for exemptions from this new interpretation so they could continue to operate according to their faith. By publicizing the list, Lhamon subjected these schools to harassment from those who opposed their religious exemptions.

Now that she is back in this role, ADF will be watching closely to see if Lhamon decides to pick up where she left off.

If she or any government official attacks the fundamental freedoms of students and religious schools, ADF will remain steadfast in our commitment to advocate for safety and equal opportunities for women, free speech, and religious liberty.

Every generation faces a unique moment when it is called on to protect the guarantee of liberty enshrined in our Constitution. This is our moment. Today, you can help defend the American promises of life and liberty.

If you believe these promises are worth defending, please sign the statement.

  • I stand for America’s founding principles: that all men are created equal with inalienable, God-given rights.
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Natalie Allen

Natalie Allen

Legislative Communications & Initiatives Coordinator

Natalie worked as a lobbyist at the Family Foundation of Virginia and a grassroots associate at Heritage Action for America before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

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