After months of debate and hundreds of personal testimony, the Ohio State Board of Education voted Tuesday 10-7 to reject the Biden Administration’s plan to add LGBTQ protections to Title IX.
But much of the resolution’s original language, and arguably the most controversial, was removed.
Most of the board members deleted sentences such as “denying the reality of biological sex destroys the fundamental truths on which education rests” and “sex is not arbitrarily assigned at birth.”
What remained were claims that President Joe Biden’s plan to add gender identity and sexual orientation to federal law protecting girls from discrimination in schools and sports “illegally circumvents the legislative process and undermines the same protections for female students that Title IX sought to provide. “
“Proposed regulations related to athletics would require sports teams to be based on gender identity rather than biological sex, which would cause biological women and girls to compete unfairly against biological men,” according to the final resolution.
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What would the resolution do?
The only remaining action item in the resolution was a requirement for the state superintendent to mail to “every public school district in Ohio” and “every district (school) board member” a copy of what he passed. the meeting within 21 calendar days. A cover letter would also be mailed which would include the following:
- Board opposes Biden’s proposed regulatory changes
- The proposed changes are in the middle of a federal lawsuit and therefore cannot be enforced.
- The Ohio Attorney General has joined that case.
- The board also disagrees with the Department of Agriculture’s proposed rule change that could withhold school lunch funds from schools that violate these new Title IX rules.
- The letter “is intended to inform schools and districts, not to force them to take any particular course of action.”
Board members Melissa Bedell and Christina Collins attempted to strike down the letter, but that motion failed with a 9-9 vote.
“Any other resolution that we’ve passed,” Collins said. “We haven’t sent letters to the districts before.”
But she voted against the resolution for “much” greater reasons.
“I will never be able to support anything that singles out a group of students the way the resolution does…” Collins said. “We could have fulfilled the intended purpose which was, I think, that the federal government should not usurp the rights of the states… I think we could have fulfilled that intent without having the inflammatory language to target LGBTQ children.”
Board member Brandon Shea, who wrote the original resolution, disagreed.
“They go hand in hand for me,” Shea said during the meeting.
Establishing a clear definition of biological sex, in Shea’s view, was “essential and foundational to the resolution.” But Collins took that as an indication “that there was some intent in targeting (LGBTQ children).”
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What happens now?
The final resolution still “declares its emphatic support” for the original version of Title IX. The landmark law passed in 1972 that made it illegal to discriminate against girls or girls’ sports teams in public education.
But what happens next will depend on both Ohio state lawmakers and the federal government.
Republicans in the state Senate are expected to pass a bill banning transgender girls from playing on women’s sports teams this week, and it could be on Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk before Christmas.
Federal changes will take much longer, possibly years, given the lawsuit filed by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and 21 state attorneys general.
Plus:Ohio Attorney General Sues to Stop USDA Rule Banning Gender Identity Discrimination
“This will ultimately be resolved in court,” said Mike Toal, a board member.
Still, he thought it was important to voice his opposition to executive branch changes to laws that Congress should make. The Biden Administration “simply usurped the responsibility of the legislative body,” he said.
Several board members, including Collins and Michelle Newman, still voted no, saying the language went beyond affirming the separation of powers and parental rights in K-12 education.
“It’s a political statement,” Newman said. “It’s a legal statement that we’re not equipped to make.”
Anna Staver is a reporter for the Ohio Bureau of the USA TODAY Network, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal, and 18 other affiliated news organizations throughout Ohio.