Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona dodged questions from Rep. Andrew Clyde on Tuesday, when the Georgia Republican asked the Biden administration what it means to be a “woman.”
The tense back-and-forth took place during a House Appropriations Committee hearing where Cardona defended proposed changes to Title IX rules that would make it illegal for schools to ban transgender athletes from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity,
“Can you please tell me or can you please define for me what is a woman?” Clyde asked Cardona.
The Biden administration official deflected the question, only answering that the focus of the Department of Education “is to provide equal access to students including students who are LGBTQ – access free from discrimination.”
Unsatisfied with Cardona’s response, Cylde persisted with his line of questioning, once again asking the education secretary, “What’s the definition of a woman?”
“I think that’s almost secondary to the important role that I have as secretary of education,” Cardona said.
When asked again, Cardona answered that his job “is to make sure that all students have access to public education, which includes co-curricular activities.”
The Biden administration official also refused to go on record with his beliefs on whether “a biological male who self-identifies as a woman should be allowed to compete in women’s sports,” only responding that “all students” should have access to school sports.
The tentative Title IX rule change unveiled by the Biden administration earlier this month would forbid schools that receive federal funding from implementing a “one size fits all” policy for athletes, but does allow discretion to impose team eligibility rules that would restrict a transgender student’s participation in certain sports if it serves “important educational objectives” — such as competitive fairness and reduction of injury risk.
Schools that choose to impose limits must “minimize harms” to students who lose out on athletics opportunities, the proposal says.
“Preventing students from participating on a sports team consistent with their gender identity can stigmatize and isolate them,” the White House said after unveiling the proposed change to the 51-year-old Title IX rules. “This is different from the experience of a student who is not selected for a team based on their skills.”
Clyde derided the Biden administration proposal on Tuesday as an attempt to “weaponize Title IX” in a way that “endangers women.”
“Through the Department of Education, President Biden, in my opinion, is attempting to weaponize Title IX, morphing it from a law that protects women to a law that harms or endangers women. Further, the department is doing so with taxpayer dollars, an action that spotlights were your and your president’s true priorities lie in my opinion,” Clyde said.
Cardona on Tuesday also couldn’t immediately say how much crafting and implementing the proposed rule would cost taxpayers.
The Department of Education is currently receiving public comments on the proposed change, which it will accept until May 15.