WASHINGTON – This year marks 50 years since Title IX became federal law and now under the Biden administration, it's facing major changes. Supporters say it's about expanding rights for students, but critics believe it will destroy women's sports, privacy, and more.
Title IX became law in 1972 and it was meant to protect girls' and women's rights in education. Among other things, the Biden administration wants to change the way schools respond to sexual misconduct on campuses and codify protections for LGBTQ students by changing the definition of "sex."
Sarah Parshall Perry, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, says that's where it gets sticky for women's sports.
"By adding the definition of sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity, they are unnecessarily opening up every sex separate space that was anticipated to be needed under Title IX," Perry said in an interview with CBN News. "The regulations and congressional records make that very clear that men and women, boys and girls, are different and need equal spaces but require separation in some context. All of those spaces, whether it's athletics, locker rooms, bathrooms, single-sex admissions, or dormitories, would all be thrown open to individuals who identify as girls and women regardless of what their biology is."
Conservative legal scholars like Perry – and many feminists – say that if men who identify as women can compete against women and share their spaces, it will erase women's sports and privacy.
"Title IX was passed specifically to guarantee the equality of women," said Perry. "It wasn't to guarantee the equality of men. Men already had full opportunity to compete in interscholastic athletics and to avail themselves with educational opportunities."
One prominent example is trans swimmer Lia Thomas – formerly Will Thomas – who became a national NCAA champion after competing against biological women.
Former education secretary under the Trump administration, Betsy DeVos, told CBN News this is "absolutely wrong."
"When it comes to women's sports you cannot say, 'I support Title IX and women's access to sports and the ability to compete' and then at the same time say it's okay for transgender students who are biological men competing on women's teams," she said. "Those cancel each other out. They're in direct contradiction to one another."
One of DeVos' legacies as education secretary was changing how schools handle sexual misconduct on school campuses.
"We spent a lot of time regulating on this issue of how campuses, schools must handle this issue of sexual misconduct under Title IX and we put forward a rule that is fair, balanced, that recognizes the right to due process, that respects the right of the complainant, the victim, to proceed with a case as they want it to proceed," she explained.
This too is on the chopping block with the Biden administration's anticipated changes.
"And instead it will return the college grievance procedure to a guilty until proven innocent standard, giving one Title IX investigator on a campus all the power in the world to act as judge, jury, and executioner for someone's educational fate," said DeVos.
The changes are expected any day and once they're announced they must be open to public comment for at least 30 days, after which they can become legally binding.