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4 States Tell Schools to Ignore New Title IX Rules That Protect LGBTQ Students

The challenges could set up a federal showdown that might end up in a protracted court battle ahead of the elections.

On Friday, the Biden administration released its final Title IX rules, which include protections for LGBTQ+ students by clarifying that Title IX forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The rule change could have a significant impact as it would supersede bathroom bans and other discriminatory policies that have become increasingly common in Republican states within the United States. As of Thursday morning, however, officials in at least four states — Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida, and South Carolina — have directed schools to ignore the regulations, potentially setting up a federal showdown that may ultimately end up in a protracted court battle in the lead-up to the 2024 elections.

Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley was the first to respond, decrying the fact that the new Title IX regulations could block teachers and other students from exercising what has been dubbed by some a “right to bully” transgender students by using their old names and pronouns intentionally. Asserting that Title IX law does not protect trans and queer students, Brumley states that schools “should not alter policies or procedures at this time.” Critically, several courts have ruled that trans and queer students are protected by Title IX, including the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in a recent case in West Virginia.

In South Carolina, Schools Superintendent Ellen Weaver wrote in a letter that providing protections for transgender and LGBTQ+ students under Title IX “would rescind 50 years of progress & equality of opportunity by putting girls and women at a disadvantage in the educational arena,” apparently leaving transgender kids out of her definition of those who deserve progress and equality of opportunity. She then directed schools to ignore the new directive while waiting for court challenges. While South Carolina does not have a bathroom ban or statewide Don’t Say Gay or Trans law, such bills continue to be proposed in the state.

Responding to the South Carolina letter, Chase Glenn of Alliance For Full Acceptance stated, “While Superintendent Weaver may not personally support the rights of LGBTQ+ students, she has the responsibility as the top school leader in our state to ensure that all students have equal rights and protections, and a safe place to learn and be themselves. The flagrant disregard shown for the Title IX rule tells me that our superintendent unfortunately does not have the best interests of all students in mind.”

Florida Commissioner of Education Many Diaz also joined in in instructing schools not to implement Title IX regulations. In a letter issued to area schools, Diaz stated that the new Title IX regulations were tantamount to “gaslighting the country into believing that biological sex no longer has any meaning.” Governor Ron DeSantis approved of the letter and stated that Florida “will not comply.” Florida has notably been the site of some of the most viciously anti-queer and anti-trans legislation in recent history, including a Don’t Say Gay or Trans law that was used to force a trans female teacher to go by “Mr.”

State Education Superintendent Ryan Walters of Oklahoma was the latest to echo similar sentiments. Walters has recently appointed the right-wing media figure Chaya Raichik of Libs of TikTok to an advisory role “to improve school safety,” and notably, Chaya Raichik has posed proudly with papers accusing her of instigating bomb threats with her incendiary posts about LGBTQ+ people in classrooms.

The Title IX policies have been universally applauded by large LGBTQ+ rights organizations in the United States. Lambda Legal, a key figure in fighting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation nationwide, said that the regulations “clearly cover LGBTQ+ students, as well as survivors and pregnant and parenting students across race and gender identity.” The Human Rights Campaign also praised the rule, stating, “rule will be life-changing for so many LGBTQ+ youth and help ensure LGBTQ+ students can receive the same educational experience as their peers: going to dances, safely using the restroom, and writing stories that tell the truth about their own lives.”

The rule is slated to go into effect August 1st, pending any legal challenges.

This piece was republished with permission from Erin In The Morning.