Betsy Devos' Dept. of Education threatens to withhold $18 million from schools that let transgender athletes compete

Betsy Devos' Dept. of Education threatens to withhold $18 million from schools that let transgender athletes compete
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos observing a moment of silence for the Parkland, Florida shooting at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Credit: Gage Skidmore

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE), led by Betsy DeVos (pictured above), is threatening to withhold $18 million in federal funds from three Connecticut school districts unless they stop following the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s guidelines allowing transgender athletes to compete in sports.


The DOE’s Office for Civil Rights sent a letter to the Groton, Hartford and New Haven school districts telling them that allowing trans students to compete in sports teams matching their gender identities violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a subsection of the law that requires federally funded institutions not to discriminate on the basis of sex.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has pledged to “vigorously oppose” defunding efforts, but the state’s Democratic Governor Ned Lamont has said he doesn’t want to lose federal dollars over the policy, potentially placing it at risk.

The anti-LGBTQ legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is currently suing five Connecticut school districts over the same policy for the same reasons. The suit, brought by the parents of three cisgender female track athletes makes the same Title IX claims as the DOE and claims that trans girls have an unfair physical advantage which could prevent their daughters from advancing in competitions and winning college scholarships.

Earlier in her tenure, DeVos rolled back Obama-era protections allowing trans students to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity. She later admitted that she did this even though she knew that it could lead to increased harassment, depression, and possibly suicide among transgender students.

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