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Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sounded off on the Biden administration’s rumored proposals for Title IX a day ahead of the civil rights law’s 50th anniversary.
Title IX of the Education Amendments Act, signed into law by President Richard Nixon on June 23, 1972, prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding.
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance,” the law states.
“It’s been an important law, and one that we have to continue to protect,” DeVos told Fox News Digital on Wednesday.
From left, Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., clap as tennis star Billie Jean King, founder of the Women’s Sports Foundation, speaks during the Women’s History Month event honoring women athletes in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX in Statuary Hall in the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
However, some parents are fretting over the Biden administration’s reported new draft rules, which in part include a redefining of the word “sex” to mean “gender” and “gender identity.”
DeVos, who as education secretary wrote that Title IX’s sex-based protections were sticking by the definitions of “biological sex, male or female,” said the expansion of the word would be a “bridge too far.”
“That they would attempt to expand the definition of biological sex through a rulemaking process, it really is a bridge too far,” she said. “And I hope that, and I trust that many people will raise their voices if what is rumored to be true actually unfolds.”
Parents in Fairfax, Virginia, sounded off to Fox News Digital last week before the school board voted to increase punishments for students for “misgendering” their classmates. That is, calling them by the pronoun given at birth, as opposed to students’ preferred pronouns.
“What’s most concerning to me is the punishments,” Tyler Ohta, founder of Moms for American Values, told Fox News Digital ahead of the vote. “They are talking about potentially giving suspensions to children as young as fourth grade, and these rules will go in place for children all the way as young as kindergarten. So to hold little children culpable, responsible, for someone else’s personal decision, compelling their speech at such a young age. It’s a very dangerous path that we’re going down, and we need to defend our free speech and our religious beliefs.”
“I do think some of these developments are very concerning,” DeVos agreed.
“They’re also getting a ton of pushback from people who are concerned about protecting women’s sports in particular, and protecting the very important due process protections that we ensured were a part of the whole Title IX requirements for how institutions must handle these issues,” she added.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Also in the spotlight should the Biden rules take effect are due process protections for students. As education secretary, DeVos released a rule giving students accused of sexual harassment more opportunity to defend themselves, and requiring that the harassment must be proven to have been severe and pervasive.
“Today we release a final rule that recognizes we can continue to combat sexual misconduct without abandoning our core values of fairness, presumption of innocence and due process,” she said at the time.
U.S. President Joe Biden and U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona deliver remarks during an event for the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year in the East Room of the White House on April 27, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
DeVos’ guidance replaced that of the Obama administration’s, which, in a 2011 Dear Colleague letter, outlined for schools how to conduct Title IX proceedings. The Obama administration required universities to investigate nearly all complaints of sexual misconduct, no matter how long ago they had allegedly occurred. It also strongly discouraged schools from “allowing the parties personally to question or cross-examine each other during the hearing.”
“The rumored pieces of Biden’s plans give us all great cause for concern,” DeVos said, noting that Obama’s “far left” efforts “destroyed many young people’s lives as a result of flawed approaches.”
“We went methodically through constructing a rule that very clearly sets up a framework that’s fair, that’s balanced, that respects the rights of both individuals in a party with an issue,” she said. DeVos added the Biden administration’s to change the rules is a “a bridge too far.”
First Lady Jill Biden and tennis legend Billie Jean King joined an All-American high school track athlete to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX Wednesday.
Cortney O’Brien is an Editor at Fox News. Twitter: @obrienc2