GOP Official Tells Tennessee Colleges to Say Title IX Doesn’t Protect LGBTQ+ People

Tennessee universities are under pressure from a Republican state legislator who wants them to withdraw documents describing LGBTQ+ people as a protected group under federal law.

In August, Rep. John Ragan, chairman of the state’s Government Operations Committee, sent letters to Tennessee schools, including the University of Tennessee and East Tennessee State University, demanding that they “immediately use » LGTBQ inclusive language to comply with state law.

“Universities are not free to ignore state law, regardless of their accreditation,” Ragan said. says WREG-TV. “These are not governmental entities, and as such universities must abide by state law beyond what these organizations tell them.”

He argued that schools must remove the language to comply with a July federal court decision prevent the federal Department of Education from enforcing proposed regulations that would treat gender and sexual identity as protected identities under Title IX, a 1972 federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding.

Mr. Ragan’s letter-writing effort drew mixed responses.

ETSU removed a statement from its website that read: “Individuals of all genders and sexual orientations and applies to students, faculty, staff… and other participants in programs and educational activities of the University”. News Channel 11 reported.

Kate Craig, an LGTBQ+ state senate candidate who attended ETSU, told WJHL that the pressure on universities is “incredibly sad, tragic and dangerous for ETSU students because the protections that ETSU has offered to students fall under Title IX”.

Meanwhile, the University of Tennessee said this week he deemed his diversity and inclusion policies to be fully compliant with applicable civil rights laws, writing in a response to Rep Ragan that “he has not altered his title-related posts, policies, or websites. IX in response to the June 23, 2021 letter from the U.S. Department of Education or the injunction issued July 15, 2022 by the federal district court.

Rep. Ragan has lobbied for various policies aimed at reducing LGTBQ representation in educational settings, including a controversial Tennessee law that prohibits K-12 educators from teaching certain ideas about race and gender. in class.

The law contains 14 “prohibited concepts” and comes with stiff financial penalties for violators.

“If you don’t like the law, you can file another bill to change it.” said Mr. Ragan told his colleagues earlier this year.

In July, in a lawsuit brought by 20 Republican attorneys general led by Tennessee, a Trump-appointed federal judge found that proposed federal regulations applying Title IX to LGTBQ+ people “directly interfere with and threaten the ability of the requesting states to continue to enforce their state laws.”

“As things stand, plaintiffs must choose between the threat of legal consequences — enforcement action, civil penalties, and withholding federal funding — or changing their state laws to ensure compliance with the guidelines and avoid such adverse actions”, judge Charles Atchley. wrote in his decision.

The GOP states argued in the suit that the new DOE rules would require them to violate their state’s laws prohibiting trans people from using bathrooms and playing on sports teams that match their gender identity.

Federal officials and recent court rulings say LGTBQ+ people are protected under federal law.

According to the Ministry of EducationTitle IX requires universities to operate “in a nondiscriminatory manner and without discrimination based on sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity” in key areas such as admissions, recruiting, athletics, l financial assistance, reporting and discipline of sexual harassment.

The department explained that the proposed regulations suspended in the recent court decision “reflect the department’s continued commitment to ensuring that federally funded education programs and activities are free from all forms of gender discrimination, including including discrimination based on gender stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation and gender identity.

In 2020, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v Clayton County ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation violated civil rights law, after a Georgia government employee was fired for participating after discovering he was playing in a gay recreational softball league.

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