We know the risks, and they are real
Christiana Kiefer | As the Education Department prepares to rewrite Title IX, the truths about biology aren’t lost on most of us
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Buried in a dry, text-heavy page of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs on Reginfo.gov sit the words “We have limited information about the risks at this time.”
The page outlines the U.S. Department of Education’s project—a new regulation amending the current policies implementing Title IX. The rule is meant to bring the department in alignment with the priorities of the Biden administration and ban “discrimination” based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The department could release it any day.
It’s not clear exactly how far this regulation will go. It could roll back due process protections for individuals accused of using the “wrong” pronouns. It could reinstate the Obama-era “shame list” for Christian colleges and universities exempted by the Title IX statute. The regulation could also further incentivize abortion in an implicit or explicit prohibition of discrimination “on the basis of termination of pregnancy.” But even at this early stage, it’s clear that the regulation’s premise—treating sexual orientation and gender identity like sex—is deeply problematic.
First, the regulation seeks to sidestep the will of the people. Despite their best efforts, LGBT advocates haven’t been able to enact the so-called Equality Act—legislation that, as writers here and elsewhere have noted, is misleadingly titled and harmful to women. But the left’s motto seems to be why legislate when one can regulate?
The Education Department’s policy overhaul tries to borrow legitimacy from the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County—a case that dealt only with employment law and specifically stayed silent on the wide array of issues covered by Title IX. The department’s rule will also create a legal collision with myriad newly enacted state laws preserving the integrity of women’s sports.
Second, the regulation seeks to implement a truly bad idea—directly at odds with a Christian anthropology and with common sense. Genesis is clear: God created humans as male or female. Title IX (imperfectly) helps remedy past discrimination against women and ensures their access to equal educational opportunities. It’s premised on the dignity of women and the knowability of the category “woman.” But the anticipated regulation dismantles Title IX by shoehorning a false view of reality into a law designed to protect women. According to the current argument, if a boy says he feels like a girl or a man says he feels like a woman, he must soon be treated as a she.
Finally, like most bad ideas, this one threatens profound, personal consequences. School districts and athletic associations across the country have already beta-tested this toxic worldview. Alliance Defending Freedom has represented—and secured victories for—a Virginia elementary physical education teacher and an Ohio university professor who respectfully declined to be dishonest with students or endorse their schools’ transgender speech codes. The Education Department’s new federal mandate promises to multiply such problems and may force faithful Christian teachers across the country to stand up and file lawsuits of their own.
The regulation will also harm female athletes. I’ve written for WORLD Opinions before about one of the most recent instances of a male dominating collegiate athletics. But Lia Thomas isn’t the only example. I’m representing high school track athletes in Connecticut and Arkansas and elite female college athletes in Idaho and West Virginia. I’m aware of dozens more women and girls already sidelined by males who identify as female.
The new rule pretends to ban discrimination, but it discriminates against the very girls and women the White House professes to champion. We know the risks this regulation poses. It will multiply the injustices already forcing girls and women to the sidelines.
The risks are especially dire for children experiencing gender dysphoria and the loving parents who work to help them achieve greater comfort and alignment with their biological sex. Just look at the parents of a 12-year-old student in the Kettle Moraine School District in Wisconsin. Their preteen was experiencing anxiety and depression, and a school counseling program pushed her to say she was a boy. Her parents wanted to give her time, but school officials blatantly said they would disregard the parents’ decisions regarding their child’s mental health.
Shortly after she transferred out of the school, the girl felt relief from her anxiety and no longer wanted to be treated as a boy. Schools can’t even give a child aspirin without telling parents, but the Education Department’s new mandate will force them into the risky business of interfering with complex medical issues and casting aside biological reality for gender identity ideology.
We don’t know all the details of this new regulation. But we know enough to pray against its evil, to attend board meanings, and to engage our children and their teachers. We also have enough information to start drafting public comments expressing our kind but firm opposition to this dangerous regulation.
We know the risks. They are real.
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