'Fairness for our biological females': Moody says Biden admin overstepped with new Title IX rule

Targeting issues about sexual orientation and gender identity, Florida joined three other states Monday in filing a federal lawsuit challenging a new Biden administration rule about sex-based discrimination in education programs.

The lawsuit, filed by the attorneys general of Florida, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina and four organizations, seeks to block the rule that would help carry out Title IX, a landmark 1972 law that bars discrimination in education programs based on sex.

The lawsuit alleges, in part, that the Biden administration has overstepped its legal authority in extending the regulations to apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It also contends that the rule, if carried out, could affect issues such as which bathrooms that transgender students can use in schools.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody told The News Service of Florida that the rule "is really a radical departure from what Title IX was originally meant to do."

"We will fight very strongly against this rule, just to ensure this does what Congress intended it (the law) to do, and that is provide opportunities to everyone and especially protect the security and fairness for our biological females," Moody said.

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But in announcing the rule this month, the U.S. Department of Education said the measure will "fully effectuate Title IX’s promise that no person experiences sex discrimination in federally funded education."

"For more than 50 years, Title IX has promised an equal opportunity to learn and thrive in our nation's schools free from sex discrimination," U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, said in a prepared statement. "These final regulations build on the legacy of Title IX by clarifying that all our nation’s students can access schools that are safe, welcoming and respect their rights."

The 84-page lawsuit, filed in the federal Northern District of Alabama, alleges that the wide-ranging rule violates a law known as the Administrative Procedure Act. It includes allegations that the rule, which is scheduled to take effect Aug. 1, is "arbitrary and capricious."

The U.S. Department of Education announced the rule on April 19. Schools, colleges and universities that receive federal money are required to comply with Title IX.

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The rule and resulting lawsuit came after numerous political and legal fights in Florida and other Republican-controlled states in recent years about LGBTQ issues. Those fights have involved such things as efforts to prevent transgender students from using school bathrooms that don’t match their sex assigned at birth and to prevent transgender female students from participating on girls’ and women’s sports teams.

The lawsuit contends that applying Title IX regulations to issues involving sexual orientation and gender identity would clash with the states’ decisions.

"The rule conflicts with many of the state plaintiffs’ laws that govern public institutions of higher education and primary and secondary education, including laws involving harassment, bathrooms, sports, parental rights and more," the lawsuit said. "The rule thus impedes the state plaintiffs’ sovereign authority to enforce and administer their laws and creates pressure on the state plaintiffs to change their laws and practices."

But, for example, the U.S. Department of Education posted documents on its website that said the rule does not apply to issues about participation on sports teams.

"The department intends to issue a separate final rule to address Title IX’s application to sex-separate athletic teams," one of the documents said.

The four groups that are plaintiffs in the case are the Independent Women’s Law Center, the Independent Women’s Network, Parents Defending Education and Speech First. Cardona is named as the defendant.

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