A coalition of 27 parents' rights organizations, claiming to represent almost 400,000 members across the country, urged Education Secretary Miguel Cardona not to reverse the Trump administration's Title IX sex discrimination reforms and pleaded with him not to incorporate "gender identity" into Title IX regulations.
"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."
President Biden signed an executive order in March 2021 outlining plans to review Title IX regulations related to gender identity. Biden repeatedly has cited the 2020 case Bostock v. Clayton County, in which the Supreme Court ruled that discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination of the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal law.
Then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had issued new rules regarding Title IX, the federal statue that governs sexual misconduct in schools, rejecting the Obama administration's 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter that critics said led colleges and universities across America to deny due process to those accused of sexual assault.
As the parental rights groups noted, "Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments was written to ensure that ‘no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.’"
The organizations – which represent parents in Virginia, Ohio, Oregon, Utah and other states – praised the 2020 amendments to Title IX for having "broadened the definition of sex discrimination to incorporate sexual harassment, and expanded Title IX protections for elementary and secondary students." The DeVos changes "bolstered key Constitutional and civil rights principles, including freedom of speech, academic freedom, support for alleged victims, presumption of innocence and due process for alleged perpetrators, and a prompt and predictable grievance process that requires clear and convincing evidence."
"These basic due process protections have formed the bedrock of established civil rights jurisprudence for centuries," the organizations noted. "There is simply no demonstrable reason to eliminate a set of due process rules that uphold the fundamental protections of our legal system that, when implemented, were badly needed to remedy a well-documented pattern of abuses – abuses that will return if these rules are rescinded."
The organizations also urged the department against using Title IX "as the legal authority for creating a new prohibition against discrimination on the basis of ‘gender identity.’" They noted that the statute "has always explicitly permitted schools to separate males and females in certain contexts, such as athletic competition, bathrooms, locker rooms, and living quarters."
"The revisions to Title IX the Department is set to announce would discard the concept of male and female enshrined in Title IX itself, through expanding Title IX’s protections to include ‘gender identity,’" the organizations argued.
Implementing the Biden administration's goal of preventing alleged discrimination on the basis of gender identity would mean that "female sports teams, bathrooms, and locker rooms would be open to anyone who ‘identifies’ as female, and vice versa," the organizations warned. "Under the Department’s new rules, separating athletic teams and intimate facilities based on biological sex would be illegal. If a high school boy declares that he ‘identifies’ as a girl, the school would be required to allow him to walk into the girls’ locker room while girls are changing, or enter the girls’ bathroom to use the facilities alongside his female peers."
"Secretary Cardona, we urge you to reject the ideology behind this attempt to use the Department of Education to accomplish what has not been achieved at the ballot box or by Congress," the organizations concluded. "Please refrain from rewriting Title IX."
A Department of Education spokesperson told Fox News Digital that the department values input from parents and families, but stood by the forthcoming changes.
"The Department deeply values input from parents and families as they are a critical part of a school community," the spokesperson said. "The Department is committed to ensuring that schools are providing students with educational environments free from discrimination for all students, which is the law Congress wrote in Title IX and a goal we hope all educators, families, students, and leaders share."
"In line with this goal and as the Department has previously stated, the Department anticipates updating Title IX regulations this spring," the spokesperson concluded.
The spokesperson did not address the parents' rights groups' criticisms of the policy, and did not explain the department's stance on the DeVos amendments to Title IX.
Montana led 14 other states in threatening to sue the Biden administration to block its upcoming Title IX rules in order to "protect women's sports."
"We are prepared to take legal action to uphold Title IX’s plain meaning and safeguard the integrity of women’s sports," Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen wrote to the Civil Rights Division of the Biden Education Department in a letter signed by 14 other state attorneys general.
Fox News' Kelly Laco contributed to this report.