Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had written that Title IX’s sex-based protections were sticking by the definitions of "biological sex, male or female." However, in March 2021, President Biden signed an executive order outlining plans to review Title IX regulations related to gender identity. The administration's reforms include rolling back some due process protections put in place by the Trump administration, and changing the definition of "sex" to include "gender identity."
Twenty-seven parents' rights organizations claiming to represent almost 400,000 members across the country recently sent a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona urging him to heed their concerns about the changes. Many agreed that those alterations could threaten student safety.
"We represent parents, grandparents, and concerned citizens across the country who are worried that the forthcoming rule changes are a politicized effort to placate activists," the organizations, spearheaded by Parents Defending Education, wrote in a letter to Cardona on Tuesday. "In fact, the sweeping changes to Title IX that you are reportedly set to announce would erode the very rights that protect all students – regardless of sex – and ensure a safe and equitable learning environment."
Several of the signatories expanded on their concerns in exclusive interviews with Fox News Digital.
"We see that this idea of identifying students in general by identity than by biological is concerning to us," Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice told Fox News Digital. "We’re seeing sexual harassment claims, or harassment claims as language is violence, being used by students who accidentally misgender a child in the classroom. Sometimes genders are fluid. Instances where a child was being told to kill themselves and being bullied by a group of students who were literally changing their gender every day and then the school was looking at harassment violations or harassment claims against that child, which was not the case. These are 11-year-olds."
"We don’t see any reasons why it needs to be changed," she continued. "We think it really is the erasure of women in general. And as mothers we are women, adult human females, who are not birthing people."
"We want to protect women’s rights," she concluded. "We believe the Biden administration is blurring and in effect erasing women in a lot of different ways."
Elicia Brand, Army of Parents president and co-founder, similarly said the main reason that her group signed on to the letter was to safeguard female students.
"Title IX under Obama, and now under Biden, is being twisted and used as a weapon against girls and women, that Title IX was actually written to protect us. And we will suffer the most, particularly our girls who are in sports.
"We don’t want this to be weaponized under Biden while his executive order doesn’t carry the full weight of the law as Trump’s did," she continued. "It is still very dangerous because it gives the Department of Education the ability to bring lawsuits against schools and in that way they have to comply because they can’t lose the money. So the people that will be suffering will be girls and women."
The 1972 Congress, she added, likely had "no idea" that Title IX would be "manipulated to expand from just sex to gender identity."
Local father Benjamin Orr credited the original Title IX language with opening opportunities for his kids, especially for his daughter. Those opportunities were available not just in athletics, he said, but also in the form of academic scholarships.
"When you look at Title IX, it ensures that there’s equity between the sexes for anything related to educational purposes, whether that’s resources, scholarships, or athletics, of course," Orr told Fox News Digital. "And when you change this rule to make it about gender identity, which really can’t be defined…it just opens the door for potential abuse and changes."
"This is really kind of that tipping point that just kind of opens the floodgates to further interpretation, further understanding, and it’s a gray area, there’s no black and white perspective here on right versus wrong," mother Dawn Lang agreed.
Ashley Jacobs, executive director and co-founder of Parents Unite, another signatory, also suggested that the reforms would negative impacts both in terms of restroom safety and athletics.
"And it’s an issue because it has everything to do with bathrooms and dorms, and sports teams," she added. "Athletics we can go into that too. If you’re a lacrosse goalie, for example, on a girls’ team and a person who identifies as a girl and is going against you in lacrosse, which is a pretty brutal sport to begin with. I mean there are just physical differences and we’ve acknowledged that I think mostly. But it’s complicated, and so we just felt that, you know in K-12 this is such a complicated issue, and we’re making it harder, I think, to let schools do what’s best for them, for their students, and we’re making it harder for parents to do what’s best for their kids."
President of Ohio Value Voters John Stover, pointed to a scandal in Loudoun County, Virginia, last year, where a biologically male student wearing a skirt was ruled by a juvenile court judge of having assaulted a young woman in a high school bathroom.
Stover also agreed with Orr that the Title IX changes would "hinder" scholarship opportunities for female students.
"It would certainly be a step backward for biological females in our country," he said.
Orr emphasized that he and other concerned parents are 100% opposed to any kind of harassment against any gender groups - a sentiment that he said often gets lost in the debate.
"I haven’t talked to anyone that doesn’t immediately say you’ve got to still control harassment, discrimination," Orr told Fox News Digital. "That is in no way what we’re discussing or protesting at all. I’m for the absolute strongest policies against harassment, discrimination of any gender group, identity, sexual orientation. If someone bullies a kid based on one of those things, they should face absolute harsh immediate, consequences. Now at the same time, there should be due process, and we should go through a particular system to figure out what happened."
Bullying is "absolutely, unequivocally wrong," he added, and "should be punished."
Cardona marked the 49th anniversary of Title IX last year by praising it as a key tool in the fight to protect equal access to educational opportunities for all students.
"Today marks 49 years since the passage of Title IX, the strongest tool we have to protect every student's right to equal access to educational opportunities free from sex discrimination," he said.
"I'm proud of the actions the Biden-Harris administration has taken so far in ensuring that Title IX protects the civil rights of all students, including LGBTQ+ students, in our schools and on college campuses," he later added. "As secretary of education, I am committed to ensuring Title IX works for all students and provides equal access to opportunities that will enrich students' educational experiences and their futures."
This June marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX being passed into law.