WASHINGTON — The Biden administration's Title IX rule changes could interfere with the natural right of parents to make decisions about their children and further the "erasure" of women-only spaces, critics warned Thursday as they called for the resignation of a key U.S. Department of Education official.
Conservative activists gathered to speak out against the U.S. Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX civil rights policy at an event organized by Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), which advocates for constitutional protections for students and faculty, such as due process.
Held across the street from the Department of Education office, the speakers railed against the proposed Title IX rule change aimed at punishing states and schools that receive federal dollars from enacting policies restricting access to women-only sports and spaces to biological men. The activists also called for the resignation of the assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, Catherine Lhamon.
"We know that Title IX goes beyond sports titles," Annabelle Rutledge, the vice president of advancement and external relations at Concerned Women for America, said during the event, noting that the rule also protects women's right to education and career opportunities.
"It impacts every asset of their future, and even if it didn't, it's still wrong for them to have to work to a certain end and have that stripped away from them by a male."
In June 2022, the Department of Education released an initial proposal for a Title IX rule change to clarify that anti-discrimination protections for sex apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The department released another proposed rule in April 2023 prohibiting schools from banning trans-identified athletes from participating on athletic teams that do not align with their biological sex.
Other speakers included Teresa Manning, policy director of the National Association of Scholars; Eagle Forum President Kristen Ullman; Director of Policy for American Principles Project Jon Schweppe; and Speech First Executive Director Cherise Trump.
Brady Oehler, the Washington, D.C. chapter leader for Gays Against Groomers; and Debbie Cloud, co-director of American Life & Liberty PAC, also spoke at the event.
SAVE Founder Edward Bartlett, a former federal regulator at the Department of Health and Human Services, was the last to speak.
Ullman emphasized the right for parents to be made aware of changes to their child's well-being and to make the best decision for their child.
She called for the Biden administration's Title IX regulation to be rewritten to clarify that parents have the right and the responsibility to choose the education and medical treatment they believe is best for their child.
Ullman also called for a requirement mandating that school employees must obtain parents' written consent to treat their child's mental or physical health and for parents to have a right to be informed about any changes to their child's well-being.
"The unique, intimate relationship between a parent and a child creates a duty and a corresponding natural right," the Eagle Forum president said. "Parents' rights are natural rights that cannot be given or taken away by the government, and these Title IX regulations do just that."
A report earlier this year from former U.S. Department of Education Press Secretary Angela Morabito found that at least 3 million children in the United States live in school districts where they can change their name and preferred pronouns to reflect their chosen gender identity without parental consent.
Oehler told CP that simply leaving the public school system is not realistic for every parent who disagrees with the gender identity policies at their child's school.
"I think it comes down to a parent being a parent and teaching a child on the values that they hold near and dear," he said, cautioning against everyone living in a "bubble."
"And then normal people, just moderates, people who are like, 'I just want to live my life,' are at risk," Oehler said, encouraging parents to "empower" their children to speak up.
"So, yes, if you can take them out, that's OK, but as that kid gets older, you can put them back in. Make them a fighter. Make them someone who questions that teacher."
Rutledge highlighted the story of Chloe Cole, warning that "medical mutilation" can occur when hormone intervention and surgeries are pushed on adolescents.
Cole is a detransitioner suing the medical providers that she says neglected her mental health needs, providing her with hormonal intervention, a bilateral mastectomy and a hysterectomy instead.
"This must stop," Rutledge said after sharing Cole's story. "We refuse at CWA to allow women to be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. Enough is enough."
Speakers also expressed concerns about the repercussions of allowing men into spaces intended for women.
The story of Lee University volleyball player Macy Petty is one of the examples that Rutledge provided of men who identify as female depriving women of potential opportunities. When Petty was in high school, she played in a club tournament attended by college scouts, hoping they would notice her and offer a scholarship.
As she walked onto the court, she saw a male on the other team. The nets for the men's volleyball team were seven inches higher than the female net that Petty played with, but the man was allowed to play with a net that was much shorter than the standard one used for males. Due to his biological advantages as a man, the male athlete who identified as female managed to impress the college scouts.
Rutledge stated that policies that allow biological men into women's spaces result in the "ultimate erasure of women" and no "safe spaces" for women, pointing to concerns about men in women's prisons.
Bartlett said Title IX has always protected women against discrimination based on sex, not gender identity.
After the press event, Bartlett led some attendees across the street to the Department of Education building so a kangaroo mascot could deliver the letter calling for Lhamon's resignation.
In an interview with CP, Bartlett said a mail clerk inside the building accepted the letter.
In response to a question from The Christian Post about detransitioners and how their story can help raise awareness on this issue, Schweppe pointed to Cole as an example of a detransitioner sharing her story and educating legislators.
The APP policy director believes that more action is necessary, however, and he called for the airing of commercials during the 2024 presidential campaign featuring detransitioners.
In addition to sharing detransitioners' stories, Cloud called for allowing medical professionals silenced from voicing their opinion on this issue the "freedom to speak up." Otherwise, Cloud warned, children that she described as having been "harmed" and "lied to" will not have the "backup" they need.