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Title IX Update and Local Reactions

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On April 19, 2024, the U.S. Department announced a revision to the seminal Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The amendment to the 50-plus-year-old law was made to update certain definitions and guidelines regarding sex discrimination in federally funded schools. This adjustment to the previous rules is a topic that engenders much passion and debate on both sides. Before we show what local citizens and leaders think of this, a brief explanation of how the law has been overhauled is necessary.

The amendment, which goes into effect on August 1 of this year, numbers more than 1500 pages. This follows the proposal for the law change published by the Department in July of 2022 in the Federal Register. In this, citizens were invited to comment on the proposed regulation, and over 240,000 responded. The amendment addressed a variety of concerns throughout its pages.

Based on a summary of the final ruling from the US Department of Education, the law includes the actions schools must take to address discrimination based on sex as well as “sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics.” Academic institutions must respond promptly to complaints and provide support to the complainants and respondents while investigating alleged conduct. Schools are promised flexibility in adapting “the regulations’ grievance procedure requirements” so that they may enact the law’s goals of nondiscrimination in education.

With a stated goal of protecting those who would be treated differently due to their sex in schools, the regulations state that academic institutions cannot “separate or treat people differently based on sex in a manner that subjects them to more than de minimis (lacking significant) harm,” except in specific instances allowed by law. The summary continues with stipulations on the matter:

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“The final regulations further recognize that preventing someone from participating in school (including in sex-separate activities) consistent with their gender identity causes that person more than de minimis harm. This general nondiscrimination principle applies except in the limited circumstances specified by statute, such as in the context of sex-separate living facilities and sex-separate athletic teams. The final regulations do not include new rules governing eligibility criteria for athletic teams. Protects students, employees, and others from retaliation.”

The summary notes that the new rules apply the judgment from the Supreme Court’s June 2020 ruling on Bostock v. Clayton County, which involved a pair of recently fired employees who were “alleging sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964” against their employers after being fired from their respective jobs. (Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School).

The new rules are a point of concern in the community as they relate to the updated definitions surrounding LGBTQI+ students and faculty at public schools. While the amendment insists the regulations do not extend to eligibility for sports teams and that the rights of parents and guardians to act on behalf of their minor child students will be supported, there is still much uncertainty and dissatisfaction with the language of the law. Below are the statements of citizens and community leaders regarding the amendment:

“The Department of Education’s recent Title IX rule is yet another example of the Biden Administration’s abuse of power and Executive overreach to advance its extreme, liberal agenda – no matter the cost. This rule erodes decades of hard-fought battles that secured basic protections for women and girls and undermines existing due process protections that Title IX is intended to provide. It is yet another example of how this Administration is unfit to faithfully implement the laws of the land as it continuously tries to skirt Congress and govern through fiat. The sad reality is that it will be young girls throughout the country and here at home who are on the front lines of this battle, with their safety in jeopardy and their athletic success potentially stymied while the Biden Administration seeks to score political points within its base. I’ll continue fighting on behalf of all women and girls – to ensure they are not forced to compete against men and boys,” said Congressman Gus Bilirakis.

School Board Member Mark Johnson shared a straightforward opinion on how the updates should be handled. “I would like the school district to follow state law until the state tells us something different,” said Johnson.

School Board Chairwoman Linda Prescott was unavailable for comment.

“As a parent, I am deeply concerned about the potential implications of these changes on women and girls, our constitutional protections, and fundamental parental rights. To be clear, this new rule strips parents of their fundamental rights to direct the upbringing of their child. No secrets should be kept from parents, especially concerning matters that directly impact the well-being and education of our children. It is essential that parents are fully informed and involved in decisions that affect their children’s schooling experience,” said Kara Floyd of Moms for Liberty, Hernando County, in a letter to School Board Member Shannon Rodriguez.

Local athletic directors did not have any comments to share at this time.

For anyone looking to educate themselves further on the nature of these changes to the Title IX law, the entire document can be found at t9-unofficial-final-rule-2024.pdf (ed.gov). A more concise review of the ruling can alternatively be read at t9-final-rule-factsheet.pdf (ed.gov).

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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