Kentucky attorney general leading GOP effort against new Title IX rules over gender

Published 12:55 pm Friday, May 3, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By McKenna Horsley

Kentucky Lantern

Kentucky Republican Attorney General Russell Coleman is leading a new multi-state lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education over recent rules aimed at protecting LGBTQ+ students from discrimination in K-12 schools. 

Email newsletter signup

The department released the regulations last week, which include updates to Title IX protections for discrimination “based on sex stereotypes, sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics.” Two separate groups of Republican attorneys general filed similar lawsuits ahead of Tuesday. The Texas attorney general also has filed a lawsuit.

Coleman, who is leading the complaint with Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, said in a statement that the Biden Administration’s new rules “would rip away 50 years of Title IX’s protections for women and put entire generations of young girls at risk.” He added that his office is joining the lawsuit to “lead this fight for our daughters, granddaughters, nieces and all the women of our Commonwealth.” 

“As Attorney General, it is my duty to protect the people of Kentucky. As a Dad, it is my duty to protect my daughters,” Coleman said. “Today, I do both.” 

Joining Kentucky and Tennessee in the lawsuit are attorneys general from Indiana, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. Their complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, argues that the Department of Education “used rulemaking power to convert a law designed to equalize opportunities for both sexes into a far broader regime of its own making” with the new Title IX regulations. Established in 1972, Title IX was created to prevent “discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance,” according to the Department of Education. 

“Men who identify as women will, among other things, have the right to compete within programs and activities that Congress made available to women so they can fairly and fully pursue academic and athletic excellence — turning Title IX’s protections on their head,” the complaint says. “And anyone who expresses disagreement with this new status quo risks Title IX discipline for prohibited harassment.” 

In a statement about the release of the new Title IX rules, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said they “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.” The regulations will become effective on Aug. 1, 2024. 

The updated rules also roll back changes made during the Trump administration that narrowly defined sexual harassment and directed schools to conduct live hearings, allowing those who were accused of sexual harassment or assault to cross-examine their accusers.

Kentucky lawmakers have tried to pass anti-transgender laws in recent years. Last year, the Republican-controlled General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 150, a sweeping law that included requiring local school boards to make policies keeping people from using bathrooms, locker rooms or showers that “are reserved for students of a different biological sex.”