Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., shared a tense exchange with Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on Tuesday after Cardona repeatedly refused to define “woman” or definitively explain the extent of “equal access” for transgender students under the Biden administration’s new Title IX rules .
Cardona appeared before the House Appropriations Committee to defend his proposed change to Title IX that would make it illegal for schools to broadly ban transgender students from competing on sports teams that don’t align with their sex assigned at birth.
Clyde asked Cardona to defend the proposal by first defining “what is a woman.”
Cardona dodged the question by replying, “Our focus at the department is to provide equal access to students, including students who are LGBTQ, access free from discrimination.”
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“So what’s the definition of a woman?” Clyde fired back. “You haven’t given me that. You haven’t answered my question.”
“I think that’s almost secondary to the important role that I have as Secretary of Education,” Cardona responded.
“My question is not secondary, my question is very simple,” Clyde replied. “What does HHS say the definition of a woman is?”
“I lead the Department of Education, and my job is to make sure that all students have access to public education, which includes co-curricular activities,” Cardona said. “And I think you highlighted quite well the importance of Title IX and giving students equal access, whether it’s scholarship and facilities and participation as well.”
“OK, so you’re not going to answer my question,” Clyde said. “Do you believe that a biological male who self-identifies as a woman should be allowed to compete in women’s sports?”
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Cardona again refused to answer, saying, “I believe our focus needs to make sure that all students have access to public education.”
After some back and forth, Clyde asked the same question again, to which Cardona responded, “I believe all students should have access to all things that are public—”
“So you’re not going to answer my question,” Clyde interjected. “Do you believe allowing biological males to compete in women’s sports benefits for female athletes?”
“I believe it’s important that we take into account the needs of all students when they’re engaging in—” Cardon said.
“So you’re not going to answer my question,” Clyde interrupted. “Do you believe allowing biological males to enter women’s private spaces such as bathrooms and locker rooms is safe for female students?”
“It’s critically important that we make sure all students feel safe in their school environment,” Cardona responded. “It means that the perspective of all students should be taken into account when decisions are made around facilities.”
Under the Education Department’s proposed rule, no school or college that receives federal funding would be allowed to impose a “one-size-fits-all” policy that categorically bans transgender students from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity. Such policies would be considered a violation of Title IX.
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“The US Department of Education (Department) proposes to amend its regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) to set out a standard that would govern a recipient’s adoption or application of sex-related criteria that would limit or deny a student’s eligibility to participate on a male or female athletic team consistent with their gender identity,” the Education Department wrote.
“The proposed regulation would clarify Title IX’s application to such sex-related criteria and the obligation of schools and other recipients of Federal financial assistance from the Department (referred to below as ‘recipients’ or ‘schools’) that adopt or apply such criteria to do so consistently with Title IX’s non-discrimination mandate.”