In January 2020, Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education proposed a rule that seeks to dramatically expand exemptions from Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in schools. Title IX already has a narrow exemption for schools that are controlled by religious organizations, but DeVos and the Department want to expand that exemption to allow many more schools to discriminate on the basis of sex, potentially even schools that are entirely secular but subscribe to “moral beliefs and practices.” The proposed rule could allow schools that have only a tenuous connection to religion—or even no connection at all—to discriminate against or even push out students for using birth control, getting an abortion, being LGBTQ, parenting a child outside of marriage, or simply not meeting the school’s stereotypes of how people of different genders are supposed to behave. The proposed rule also tries to harm people in other ways, like by taking away rights from people who use services provided by federal funded religious organizations.
In February 2020, the National Women’s Law Center submitted a comment opposing this proposed rule. The comment explains how:
- The proposed rule would make sex discrimination in school worse and harm the very people Title IX is meant to protect
- The proposed rule is wrong on the law and contradicts what Title IX actually says
- The Department of Education failed to follow important procedures that allow the public to have a meaningful say in the rulemaking process
The American public agrees that this proposed rule is dangerous. In just 30 days, the Department received nearly 18,000 comments from students, schools, and other stakeholders, the vast majority of whom opposed the proposed rule.