Federal judge blocks Title IX changes in Wyoming

By Allison Allsop, Casper Star-Tribune Via Wyoming News Exchange
Posted 7/9/24

A federal judge has halted the implementation of new Title IX rules in Wyoming, Alaska, Kansas and Utah. 

A lawsuit, filed in May, was initiated by a coalition of states and organizations, …

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Federal judge blocks Title IX changes in Wyoming


A federal judge has halted the implementation of new Title IX rules in Wyoming, Alaska, Kansas and Utah. 

A lawsuit, filed in May, was initiated by a coalition of states and organizations, including Moms for Liberty, Young America’s Foundation and Female Athletes United. In April, the U.S. Education Department released new regulations for Title IX, which is a federal statute meant to protect students and school employees from sex-based discrimination. 

Tuesday’s ruling by a U.S. District Court judge in Kansas blocks the rules, which were set to begin on Aug. 1, amending the definition of sex-based discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Last month, Wyoming State Superintendent Megan Degenfelder traveled to Washington to join other states to oppose the new rulings. 

Although the Education Department has stated that these changes would not apply to athletics or living quarters, many individuals are still concerned about these areas. 

Female Athletes United was one of the plaintiffs. According to court documents, the purpose of this organization is to “defend equal opportunity, fairness and safety in women’s and girl’s sports.”

Judge John Broomes, who presided over the case, wrote in his decision that the court did not consider arguments on athletics in the ruling because there is a carved out exemption for athletics within the rule. 

However, he did find reason to agree with the plaintiffs on several other complaints and issued an injunction on the rule. The complaints the judge felt have merits include the rule going against the spirit of Title IX; the department not having the authority to author this rule; violation of the Spending Clause; violation of the First Amendment and causing irreparable injury to plaintiff states and public interest. 

The judge went on to state that the rule would likely be deemed invalid in its entirety because the new definition is used throughout the rule, and it would be difficult to exercise the rule without eliminating parts that involve sex discrimination. 

The plaintiffs sought a nationwide injunction, but the judge settled on an injunction within the plaintiff states, at schools where members of Young America’s United and Female Athletes United attend and schools attended by minor children of members of Moms for Liberty. 

There was also a single individual as a plaintiff in the case. 

A minor, named only as K.R., argued that she would not feel safe if this rule were to go into effect and was concerned that she would be punished for voicing her own opinion regarding her religious beliefs about sexual orientation and gender identity. 

The court also granted an injunction for K.R.’s school since she lives outside of the plaintiff states. 

“The DoE’s reinterpretation of Title IX to place gender identity on equal footing with (or in some instances arguably stronger footing than) biological sex would subvert Congress’ goals of protecting biological women in education,” read the court’s order. 

In response to the injunction, both the governor and state superintendent released statements expressing their gratitude. 

“I am pleased that the court has recognized and halted the Biden administration’s brazen attempt to rewrite Title IX,” said Gov. Mark Gordon in a press release. “I never had any doubts that we would prevail in our efforts to thwart this miscarriage of authority, a move that undermines — among other things — the core principles of fairness in women’s sports.” 

This is not the end of the legal battle. The injunction is just preliminary; the U.S. District Court of Kansas has yet to release its final opinion on the validity of the ruling. 

If the court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, the Biden administration can still appeal the decision.