Doubling down on previous statements, Gov. Greg Abbott directed Texas’ public universities and community colleges on May 8 to ignore new Title IX regulations that expand protections for LGBTQ+ students.

The Republican governor gave similar direction to the Texas Education Agency, which oversees public K-12 schools, on April 29.

The overview

Title IX, a federal civil rights law passed in 1972, prohibits sex-based discrimination at federally funded colleges and K-12 schools. An expanded version of the law, which is set to take effect Aug. 1, bans discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and pregnancy.

In a letter to college and university leaders, Abbott said the updated rules “[contradict] the original purpose and spirit of the law to support the advancement of women.”

“President Biden wants to force every school across the country to treat boys and men as if they were girls and women, and to accept every student’s self-declared gender identity, exceeding his authority as President in order to impose a leftist belief on the next generation,” Abbott wrote.

Attorney General Ken Paxton also sued the Biden administration in an attempt to block the changes. Several other Republican-led states have filed similar suits.

Zooming in

Abbott said the new rules defy Texas laws barring transgender student athletes from joining teams that align with their gender identity in K-12 schools and public universities.

The updated regulations do not directly reference sports. The U.S. Department of Education is still considering changes to its Title IX requirements for athletics, according to an April 19 news release.

Last year, state lawmakers passed Senate Bill 15, requiring public college athletes to compete on sports teams based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Supporters of the law argued it would level the playing field for female athletes, while LGBTQ+ advocates said it could isolate transgender athletes and conflict with NCAA rules.

The NCAA allows transgender students to compete based on their gender identity as long as they meet sport-specific requirements, including providing documentation of their testosterone levels.

“Texas will stand up not only to President Biden’s rewrite of Title IX, but also his plans to destroy the legacy of women’s collegiate sports,” Abbott wrote.

More details

The expanded Title IX rules say schools cannot discriminate against LGBTQ+ students and employees, must provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant students, and must offer support for people experiencing sexual violence and harassment.

“For more than 50 years, Title IX has promised an equal opportunity to learn and thrive in our nation's schools free from sex discrimination,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in the release. “These final regulations build on the legacy of Title IX by clarifying that all our nation’s students can access schools that are safe, welcoming and respect their rights.”