By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Several lawmakers are urging the U.S. Department of Education to rescind a proposed rule that would tie billions of dollars in federal education funding to an array of LGBT mandates.
A dozen Republican lawmakers signed a letter to the department, led by Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., and obtained by The Center Square, saying that many “colleges would be forced to choose between losing their federal funding and contradicting their beliefs by adopting policies and curricula that includes ideological teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity.”
These policies mean that schools nationwide must comply with a series of pro-transgender policies in areas such as sports, housing, locker rooms and bathrooms if they want to continue receiving federal funds. While the circumstances may vary, a school could endanger its federal funding by refusing to use a student’s preferred pronouns or to let a biological male who identifies as a girl use female bathrooms and locker rooms.
Colleges using sex to assign dorm rooms or schools that do not let biological males compete against female athletes would likely fall afoul of the new federal funding requirements.
The Department of Education said earlier this year that it “will enforce Title IX’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex to include: (1) discrimination based on sexual orientation; and (2) discrimination based on gender identity.”
This new interpretation could have major implications for schools, and critics say the Biden administration has reinterpreted Title IX law to fit an ideological agenda.
“The Department’s attempt to redefine ‘sex’ by regulatory fiat, and to include sexual orientation and gender identity under that term, perverts and undermines the original purpose of the law,” the letter said.
Now, the Education Department is pushing through a rule that would further codify controversial changes to Title IX.
The DOE said it is likely that “the current regulations do not best fulfill the requirement of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) that schools and institutions that receive Federal financial assistance eliminate discrimination on the basis of sex in their education programs or Activities.
“The Department therefore proposes that the current regulations should be amended to provide greater clarity regarding the scope of sex discrimination, including recipients’ obligations not to discriminate based on sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity,” the DOE said in its proposed rulemaking notice.
The Department of Education made clear it wants the gender and sexuality changes to have impacts for all ages.
“Further, the Department proposes that the current regulations could better account for the variety of education programs or activities covered by Title IX, which include recipients’ education programs or activities serving students in elementary schools, secondary schools, and postsecondary institutions,” DOE added.
Republican lawmakers pointed to the proposed changes, saying it will force schools to choose between funding and their values.
“This proposed rule would hamstring schools by conditioning federal student aid eligibility, including Pell Grant eligibility, on an institution’s acceptance of radical leftist policies,” the letter said. “The new proposed rule would condition federal student aid funds on the recipient institution’s compliance with the new rule.”
The effort began when President Joe Biden issued an executive order almost immediately upon taking office, and the change is part of an administration-wide effort to implement a range of LGBT mandates via federal agencies.
For instance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in May that it will change how it interprets Title IX prohibitions on discrimination based on sex “to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
That means things like funding that helps students from low-income families eat lunch at school would be jeopardized unless schools toe the line.
“As a result, state and local agencies, program operators and sponsors that receive funds from [Food and Nutrition Service] must investigate allegations of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation,” USDA said in a statement. “Those organizations must also update their non-discrimination policies and signage to include prohibitions against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.”
The lawmakers also argue the policy could have serious consequences for religious institutions.
“Under Title IX, faith-based organizations are entitled to a waiver from the law’s requirements in order to preserve their ability to act according to sincerely held beliefs. We worry that any attempt to impose these unnecessary regulations would result in religious organizations being punished for holding beliefs that differ from the extreme sex and gender ideology held by this administration.
“The proposed rule is destined to hurt countless students and institutions seeking high-quality Education,” the letter added.