Senate

Six GOP senators ask Education Department about transgender Title IX changes

Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) chat during a break in the third day of the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
Greg Nash

Six GOP senators sent a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona late last month asking about the potential ramifications of the Biden administration’s proposal to extend Title IX protections to transgender students.

The letter, sent by Republican Sens. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), describes the proposal as likely to “force a radical gender ideology” into classrooms and cites recent high-profile controversies related to transgender protections in schools.

The proposals, which the Education Department announced on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which prevents federally funded schools from discriminating on the basis of sex, would extend those protections to LGBTQI+ students, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.

“Your interpretation of Title IX will undermine that law’s very purpose by making schools and sports unsafe and unfair for women and girls,” the senators wrote.

The letter, which was dated Thursday, asks 10 questions of Cardona, with many referencing recent events that have been used as culture war examples by Republican lawmakers.

One question asks Cardona if denying Lia Thomas, a former University of Pennsylvania swimmer who in March became the first transgender woman to secure a national title in Division I athletics, access to the girls locker room would constitute a violation of Title IX.

Another references an incident at a Loudoun County, Va., high school last year in which a girl was sexually assaulted by a transgender student. The incident gained national attention, including from then-Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin (R) in the final weeks of his campaign.

Some of the senators’ other questions ask Cardona about the changes’ repercussions on other federal statutes such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which gives parents access to their children’s educational records. 

The senators asked Cardona if schools would be allowed to deny parents access to records that include sensitive information about their child’s gender identity.

The letter comes as the department moves forward in the rulemaking process, which provides 60 days for public comment on the changes before they are finalized.

The senators asked for a response by Aug. 15.

The Hill has reached out to the Education Department for comment.

Tags Biden Department of Education Josh Hawley Lia Thomas Marco Rubio Marsha Blackburn Marsha Blackburn Miguel Cardona Mike Lee Ted Cruz Title IX Tom Cotton Transgender rights
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