Oklahoma AG, Education Department sue Biden administration over Title IX changes

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State Superintendent Ryan Walters announced on Monday his agency is suing the Biden administration over new Title IX rules that would add protections for gender identity. (Photo by Nuria Martinez-Keel/Oklahoma Voice)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s attorney general and state Department of Education are both suing the Biden administration over new Title IX rules protecting gender identity in schools.

Attorney General Gentner Drummond and the state agency each announced Monday they filed lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Education in Oklahoma City federal court. The cases were filed separately, but both asked that a U.S. district judge block the new regulations from taking effect.

The federal government released new legally binding Title IX rules on April 19 that include treatment based on gender identity within the scope of sex discrimination, among many other changes. The U.S. Department of Education declined to comment on pending litigation.

Multiple Republican attorneys general have filed legal challenges to the rules, specifically over the gender identity protections.

State Superintendent Ryan Walters said his agency is the first state education department to sue over the regulations.

“Title IX was designed to ensure women had the guarantee of sex equality in education and an environment free from discrimination, but this rewriting – rooted in radical gender theory that ignores biological reality – has set back the cause of civil rights for women by generations,” Walters said in a statement Monday. “I will do everything possible to protect the essential and fundamental right of women and girls to have safe spaces of their own to compete, change clothes, and use the bathroom.”

Walters has been a frequent opponent of schools making accommodations for transgender students’ identities. He advocated for an Oklahoma law that requires school bathrooms to be used according to a person’s birth sex, and he established a new rule that prevents a student’s gender to be changed retroactively on prior school records.

The state also has outlawed transgender girls from participating in women’s sports.

Attorney General Gentner Drummond has sued to block new Title IX rules from the U.S. Department of Education. (Photo by Janelle Stecklein/Oklahoma Voice)

Drummond said the new rules are unconstitutional and will conflict with state law. The set of Title IX regulations “jeopardizes the equal opportunity that has been afforded to female athletes ever since the establishment of the statute,” his lawsuit states.

The new rules do not take a stance on athletic eligibility, though they could apply to other school policies, such as restroom use.

Walters already asked Oklahoma school districts to disregard the regulations.

However, the federal Department of Education has said the rules are mandatory for schools to continue receiving federal education funding, which amount to hundreds of millions of dollars for Oklahoma districts.

“As a condition of receiving federal funds, all federally-funded schools are obligated to comply with these final regulations and we look forward to working with school communities all across the country to ensure the Title IX guarantee of nondiscrimination in school is every student’s experience,” the federal agency said in a statement last month.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a response from the U.S. Department of Education. The federal agency declined to comment on pending lawsuits.


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