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Judge halts enforcement of Biden’s Title IX regulation in four states, striking a blow to safeguards for LGBTQ+ students

A federal judge’s ruling puts a stop to the Biden administration’s rule in Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Montana.

A federal judge in Louisiana has temporarily halted the implementation of the Biden administration’s new Title IX rule, which aimed to expand protections for LGBTQ+ students. The ruling, issued by U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty, blocked the rule in Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, and Idaho, following a lawsuit filed by Louisiana in April.

Judge Doughty described the rule as an “abuse of power” and a “threat to democracy,” expressing concerns about its implications. The Education Department, however, defended the rule and is currently reviewing the judge’s order, reaffirming its commitment to the final regulations released in April 2024.

This decision comes amidst a series of legal challenges led by more than 20 Republican-led states opposing the Biden administration’s rule. The rule, scheduled to take effect in August, expands civil rights protections under Title IX, redefines sexual harassment, and introduces safeguards for victims.

Doughty’s ruling marks a significant setback for these new protections, which received praise from civil rights advocates but faced criticism from opponents who argue they undermine the original intent of Title IX. The clash is particularly evident in states like Louisiana, which has laws mandating the use of facilities based on biological sex, conflicting with the administration’s approach.

The Louisiana lawsuit raised concerns about the financial burden on schools to update facilities and questioned the administration’s authority to expand Title IX to LGBTQ+ students. Doughty’s order also highlighted potential conflicts with free speech laws and the interpretation of the rule regarding transgender athletes.

While the Biden administration has proposed separate rules regarding transgender participation in sports, Doughty’s order suggests ambiguity in the language of the finalized rule. Similar legal battles are ongoing in other states, with the Defense of Freedom Institute expressing confidence in further court actions against the rule.

This ruling represents a clash between successive administrations’ interpretations of Title IX, with the Biden administration aiming to reverse changes made by the Trump administration’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. DeVos herself celebrated the Louisiana decision as a victory against what she described as an “anti-woman radical rewrite” of Title IX.

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