By Bill Short
The superintendent of Millington Municipal Schools has rejected the U.S. Education Department’s interpretation of Title IX regarding transgender students’ access to restrooms and locker rooms.
Dr. David Roper noted that, on May 14, the department sent a letter to the nation’s public school districts claiming that Title IX requires them to treat students in a manner consistent with their “gender identity.”
Citing an example, he said this interpretation would allow a male student who “asserts that he is female” to immediately gain access to girls’ locker rooms and restrooms.
“I strongly believe such an interpretation is not only contrary to common sense and good judgment,” he said, “but it is at odds with the clear meaning of the statute and accompanying regulations.”
Roper made the comments Monday night during his monthly report at the Millington School Board meeting.
Title IX is a portion of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972, also called Public Law 92-318.
It states that, “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.”
But Title IX also states that nothing in it can be construed to prohibit any educational institution receiving those funds from maintaining separate facilities for the different sexes.
And Roper noted that Title 34, Section 106.33 of the Code of Federal Regulations states that a recipient can provide “separate toilet, locker room and shower facilities on the basis of sex.”
He said five courts have already ruled that this does not violate Title IX, as long as the facilities are comparable.
The superintendent said attorneys for the Obama administration argued that the courts should defer to the Education Department’s recent “new” interpretation of Title IX without regard to the language in Section 106.33.
But the courts rejected that interpretation as “plainly erroneous and inconsistent” with the federal regulations.
While noting that the May 14 letter does not carry the “force of law,” Roper said it is only the department’s different interpretation of a federal statute and regulations that have been in place for many years.
“Millington Municipal Schools will not be bullied by this intrusion of the Executive Branch of the federal government into the operation of local school systems,” he said.
He pledged to continue to work to ensure that the privacy rights, safety and security of Millington’s students are protected by maintaining separate restroom and locker room facilities based on their “sex at birth.”
“Amen,” board Chairman Cody Childress said, eliciting applause from the audience.