Florida leads multistate lawsuit challenging federal Title IX revisions

by | Apr 30, 2024

Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina have sued the Biden administration, challenging new Title IX regulations that extend protections to include gender identity and sexual orientation, arguing that these changes exceed the original law’s intent and could conflict with state laws.

The states of Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina have jointly filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama against the Biden administration’s recent modifications to Title IX regulations. The amendments, slated to take effect in August, aim to broaden anti-discrimination protections to encompass gender identity and sexual orientation.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is leading the legal challenge, arguing that the U.S. Department of Education’s updated rule extends beyond the original scope of Title IX, which Congress established in 1972. The lawsuit claims that historically, the term “sex” in Title IX has been interpreted strictly as biological sex—a view purportedly supported by multiple Supreme Court decisions.

The states contend that the Biden administration’s reinterpretation through administrative rulemaking contravenes the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), citing insufficient procedural adherence and lack of adequate justification. The plaintiffs also expressed concern that the regulatory changes could clash with state laws that do not acknowledge gender identity as distinct from biological sex, potentially affecting state educational institutions.

“While different administrations can have different policy views, they cannot override the text that Congress enacted in 1972 or overrule the binding precedent of this circuit,” the lawsuit reads. “The Biden rule does both—to the detriment of the States, their schools, and their students. For a host of reasons, this new rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act and should be set aside.

Additionally, the lawsuit raises issues regarding potential violations of due process and free speech rights. It suggests that the new regulations could lead to penalties for misuse of pronouns, treating such incidents as harassment under the broadened definitions of sexual discrimination.

“One clear takeaway is that schools must now prohibit “misgendering,” where a student refuses to use others’ “preferred pronouns” instead of the pronouns that match their biological sex,” the filing continues. “Worse, the rule makes clear that a single instance of intentional or purposeful misgendering can violate the Department’s definition. As can a repeated, but non-severe, practice of misgendering.”

The plaintiffs are requesting a judicial stay to suspend the implementation of the new rules, seeking to maintain the regulations set during the Trump administration until the courts fully adjudicate the legality of the Biden administration’s revisions.

“Biden’s new Title IX rules shred protections for women—that so many fought for over decades,” said Moody in a prepared statement. “The idea that young girls can now legally be forced to undress in the same room with males in what is supposed to be a safe space like a locker room, that a young woman could be randomly assigned a roommate that is a biological male with little to no say over the matter, or that biological men would be eligible for women’s scholarships is ludicrous. To ensure safety and fairness, Florida will aggressively fight Biden who refuses to think through the real-world consequences before overhauling regulations.”


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