© 2024 Wyoming Public Media
800-729-5897 | 307-766-4240
Wyoming Public Media is a service of the University of Wyoming
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Transmission & Streaming Disruptions

Wyoming joins Title IX lawsuit, taking aim at Biden's new transgender protections

President Biden speaks behind a podium.
Prachatai / Flickr Creative Commons
President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona appear during a press conference about student loan debt relief.

Wyoming has joined a lawsuit seeking to overturn President Biden's new guidance for schools surrounding Title IX. According to a Tuesday announcement from Gov. Mark Gordon and Superintendent Megan Degenfelder, the Equality State objects to Biden's expanded protections for LGBTQ students and staff.

Title IX is a federal law protecting students and others at publicly funded educational facilities from sex-based discrimination. It's been in place since 1972, but individual presidents frequently issue their own guidance for Title IX, which affects how universities and schools interpret the law.

Biden finalized his administration's guidance in April, seeking to make it easier for students to report sexual harassment and assault. It also clarifies that the protections against sex-based discrimination also ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

"These final regulations build on the legacy of Title IX by clarifying that all our nation's students can access schools that are safe, welcoming, and respect their rights," U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona stated in the administration's news release.

The guidance aligns with a recent high profile U.S. Supreme Court decision, which found that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is, by definition, discrimination based on sex because it involves treating people differently based on their sex.

It's also how many universities have already been interpreting Title IX for years.

But a coalition of states, including Kansas, Alaska, Utah and now Wyoming, and right-wing groups like Moms for Liberty have taken aim at the new guidance in a lawsuit. They argue the new guidance endangers hard-fought protections for cisgender women and girls by treating transgender women and girls as one and the same.

"Wyoming will fight the Biden Administration's attempt to rewrite Title IX," Gordon wrote in a statement. "The state adamantly upholds its core principles of fairness, privacy and the sanctity of women's sports, opposing any imposition of ambiguous standards that threaten these ideals. This is yet another instance of federal overreach, seeking to impose a new interpretation on a longstanding law."

Degenfelder said allowing transgender women into female spaces, such as bathrooms, presents a danger to cisgender women. There is little evidence to support this claim, despite multiple studies examining the topic.

"In Wyoming, we protect our girls," Degenfelder said in the governor's news release. "We will never allow outrageous political agendas to get in the way of that. Not in bathrooms, not in education, not in sports. Period."

The new guidance refrains from establishing rules regarding trans students' participation in school and collegiate sports. Those are forthcoming.

"The final regulations clarify that policies and practices that prevent a student from participating in a recipient's education program or activity consistent with their gender identity impose more than de minimis harm on that student on the basis of sex, and therefore generally violate Title IX's nondiscrimination mandate," the administration wrote in a high-level summary published alongside the new rules. "The Department intends to issue a separate final rule to address Title IX's application to sex-separate athletic teams."

The Department of Education has received 150,000 public comments related to those provisions alone.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Kansas. It's one of nearly 60 active legal suits Wyoming has brought or joined against the federal government.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.

Enjoying stories like this?

Donate to help keep public radio strong across Wyoming.

Related Content