WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Education has directed federally funded schools nationwide to allow students to be placed in classes that align with their “gender identity” when it comes to placement in single-sex classrooms.
The directive comes from a 36-page memo that was released earlier this month, as one of the sections presents the question: “How do the Title IX requirements on single-sex classes apply to transgender students?”
“All students, including transgender students and students who do not conform to sex stereotypes, are protected from sex-based discrimination under Title IX,” the memo outlines. “Under Title IX, a recipient generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrollment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes.”
Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, further outlined to reporters, “As we receive increasing inquiries about single-sex offerings, we want to be clear what federal law allows: Protect civil rights and promote achievement.”
The mandate refers to federal law, which reads, “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 education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” The Obama administration claims that this law extends to “transgendered” persons.
But some are expressing concern over the memo, including its notation that single-sex classes may include “contact sports in physical education classes” and “classes or portions of classes in elementary and secondary schools that deal primarily with human sexuality,” also known as sex education classes. They state that the law is being misapplied.
“I think they’re crazy,” Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum told reporters. “I knew the author of Title IX, and there’s no question that she simply wanted to give a fair break to girls, and get what they are entitled to. There’s no way would she have authorized [this], nor does the text of Title IX require mixing it up like that.”
Peter Sprigg with Family Research Council told World Magazine that “[t]he law should give preference to the objective reality of biological sex.”
In addition to providing protections surrounding “gender identity,” the memo also barred schools from being selective as to whether a man or a woman teaches a class of the same sex.
“A recipient must not assign teachers to single-sex classes on the basis that boys should be taught by men and girls should be taught by women or vice versa,” the department explained. “Although Title IX allows employment decisions based on sex ‘provided it is shown that sex is a bona-fide occupational qualification for that action,’ a school may not, for example, assign a male teacher, on the basis of his sex, to teach an all-boys class because the school thinks male students will prefer, respond better to, or learn more effectively from, a man.”