Kangaroo Courts Could Be Returning to Campus, as Final Title IX Rules Are Sent to White House for Approval

Transgender sports changes appear to be delayed, though, as Biden seeks to fulfill a campaign promise.

AP/Ron Edmonds, file
James Madison University students rally outside the Education Department at Washington in 2006. AP/Ron Edmonds, file

After blowing through two previous deadlines amid mounting pressure from progressives and civil rights groups, the Biden administration’s Department of Education has sent its final Title IX rule changes for a review at the White House.

This means big changes are coming to how schools handle sexual misconduct complaints and codify protections for transgender students. Title IX is a 1972 law that bars sex-based discrimination in schools that receive federal funding.

The new rules are expected to reverse most of the changes and due process protections President Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, instituted for students during her tenure. The Trump administration’s Title IX rules mandated that accused students have the right to live hearings, cross-examination, and representation by attorneys in sexual misconduct investigations.

The 2020 Trump administration rules also narrowed the definition of sexual harassment — a crucial change, proponents say, in an era of microaggressions and pronoun policing, and all the more so when institutions of higher learning are facing free speech crises.

President Biden, though, campaigned in 2020 on putting a “quick end” to the Trump administration’s Title IX rules, which he said gave “colleges a green light to ignore sexual violence and strip survivors of their rights.”

Advocates for Mr. Biden’s changes, which are largely a reversion to Obama-era guidance, say that the Trump administration’s rules made it too difficult for survivors to come forward and seek resolution from their schools.

The Biden administration’s Title IX rule changes will reverse many of the Trump-era Title IX rules instituted while Betsy DeVos was education secretary.
The Biden administration’s Title IX rule changes will reverse many of the Trump-era Title IX rules instituted while Betsy DeVos was education secretary. U.S. Department of Education via Wikimedia Commons

Yet three years into his administration, with no changes implemented, members of Mr. Biden’s own party were pressuring the administration to take action. On Friday, he came one step closer to fulfilling his campaign promise.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring all students are guaranteed an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex,” an education department representative told the Sun by email.

“The Department of Education has taken the next step to advance a rule, first proposed in 2022, that strengthens protections for students from sexual harassment and for LGBTQI+ students.”

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs now has 90 days to review the final rules. Conspicuously absent from the changes sent to the White House are those regarding transgender participation in sports.

The education department had set March as the new deadline to release both the sexual misconduct and athletics rules changes. Now, the department won’t give a timeline for the latter.

Critics of the Biden administration’s Title IX changes say they will usher in a return to a “kangaroo court” system on college campuses, stripping due process rights from accused — mainly male — students.

President Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona at the White House Monday.
President Biden and the education secretary, Miguel Cardona, at the White House. AP/Susan Walsh

Under Obama-era Title IX guidance, there were more than 600 lawsuits from accused students alleging they were treated unfairly.

“There will just be a wave of new litigation by accused students,” a Brooklyn College professor who studies sexual assault cases, KC Johnson, told the Sun in August, when the Biden administration was expected to finalize its Title IX rules.

“We’re ending a period where schools were forced by the education department to treat accused students fairly, and we’re going to return to what was a pre-2020 era, where the only defense for a wrongly accused student is going to be the courts.”

In April, the Department of Education submitted its proposed Title IX rule changes to athletics, which would bar blanket bans on transgender participation in sports teams that match a person’s gender identity.

This portion of the Title IX changes garnered widespread attention. Nearly 70 percent of Americans think that athletes should be able to participate in sports only against those who match their birth gender, according to Gallup.

At least 24 states have already passed laws barring transgender participation in women’s sports, according to the Movement Advancement Project. The Biden administration’s position on this is not politically popular.

“The Department is still reviewing a second rule related to athletics,” a Department of Education representative said, “which was first proposed nine months after the first rule, and which received 150,000 public comments which by law must be carefully considered.”

The New York Sun

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