IN Brief

Indiana governor joins other GOP leaders opposing Biden’s proposed Title IX changes

By: - May 15, 2023 3:00 pm

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and 24 other GOP governors say they’re opposed to the Biden administration’s proposed changes expanding Title IX protections. (Getty Images)

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and 24 of his fellow Republican governors have asked the Biden administration to withdraw its proposed rule changes expanding Title IX protections to transgender athletes. 

That’s despite Holcomb’s previous refusal to sign an Indiana bill banning transgender girls from playing on K-12 girl’s school sports teams. The governor vetoed the bill in 2022, but legislators voted to override that veto.

Now, as new bills that aim to block transgender students from participating on sports teams consistent with their gender identity advance in other GOP-led state legislatures across the country, 25 of the country’s 26 GOP governors argued in a letter sent to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Friday that such bans ensure “fairness.”

The letter, led by the signature of Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, says the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed regulation should be withdrawn, pending litigation that could be addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

“The Department’s proposed regulation would attempt to coerce compliance with an uncertain, fluid, and completely subjective standard that is based on a highly politicized gender ideology,” the letter reads. 

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In April, the Biden administration proposed a new federal rule change for Title IX that would prohibit policies that “categorically” ban transgender students from participating on sports teams consistent with their gender. The proposal would still allow schools to enforce some restrictions in “competitive” environments, according to a public notice from the department.

The governors of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming slammed the administration’s proposal as “a blatant overreach. Vermont did not sign on.

“Leaving aside the Department’s utter lack of authority to promulgate such a regulation, neither states nor schools should be subjected to such a fluid and uncertain standard,” the governors said in the letter. “Nor, most importantly, should the historic advancements and achievements of our sisters, mothers, and daughters be erased.”

The governors additionally argued that the proposed changes create confusion for states and schools. They claimed, too, that federal officials have threatened to withhold federal funds to coerce schools to comply with a “completely subjective standard that is based on a highly politicized gender ideology.”

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex for school districts, universities, museums and other educational institutions that receive federal funds. The law, which was passed in 1972, intends to increase opportunities for female athletes. Federal funds can be withheld from those found to be in violation. 

“Compelling a subjective, athlete-by-athlete analysis controlled by a student’s self-identified ‘gender identity’ enforced under threat of Department retribution affords no clarity,” the governors’ letter said. “It does the opposite. This ‘fluid’ subjective standard ensures chaos and confusion in schools and will no doubt result in protracted and disruptive litigation.”


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Casey Smith
Casey Smith

A lifelong Hoosier, Casey Smith previously reported on the Indiana Legislature for The Associated Press. Internationally, she has reported on water quality across South America. She holds a master’s degree in investigative reporting and narrative science writing from the University of California/Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She previously earned degrees in journalism, anthropology and Spanish from Ball State University, where she now serves as an instructor of journalism.