Judge Blocks Implementation of New Title IX Rules in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio Indiana, Virginia, and West Virginia

June 24, 2024
Title IX

On June 17, 2024, Chief Judge Danny Reeves of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky granted a preliminary injunction in State of Tennessee, et al. v. Miguel Cardonoa, et al., U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Northern Division, Case No. 2:24-cv-072-DCR, effectively blocking the new Title IX rules from taking effect on August 1, 2024 in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, and West Virginia. A separate federal court judge previously enjoined the new Title IX rule from taking effect in Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Montana.

Background of Title IX and the New Rules

Title IX was enacted in 1972 to prevent sex discrimination in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. The new Title IX rule, promulgated by the U.S. Department of Education, following a lengthy comment and review period, expands Title IX protections to LGBTQIA+ students by redefining sex to include gender identity and sexual orientation. The new Title IX rules also include a new definition of sexual harassment and adds safeguards for the complaining parties.

Arguments Against the New Title IX Rule

The complaint filed by the Attorney Generals for Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, and West Virginia argued that under the new Title IX rules, individuals who identify as a different gender than their biological sex would have the “right to compete within programs and activities that Congress made available to women so they can fairly and fully pursue academic and athletic excellence — turning Title IX’s protections on their head.”

Judge Reeves’s Ruling

Judge Reeves agreed with the arguments raised by the Plaintiff States’ Attorneys General. He held that the new Title IX regulations were an attempt to “dramatically alter the purpose” of Title IX, which was initially to protect women from discrimination based on sex in educational programs and activities. He concluded that the term “sex” in Title IX does not include gender identity and sexual orientation, stating that the legislative history and text of Title IX indicate that the drafters meant “male” and “female” when they wrote “on the basis of sex.”

According to Judge Reeves, the U.S. Department of Education exceeded its authority in issuing the new Title IX rule by not only expanding the definition of sex, but also failing to address:

  • Potential First Amendment issues.
  • Concerns over student and faculty safety.
  • Parental rights.

Concerning potential First Amendment issues, he found that the new Title IX rule “would compel staff and students to use whatever pronouns a person demands, even when those are contrary to grammar rules, reality, or political ideologies, and it further prohibits staff and students from expressing their own views on certain topics.”

Irreparable Harm and Future Implications

Judge Reeves found that irreparable harm would ensue if he did not grant the request for the preliminary injunction because of compliance costs, the short time within which the State Plaintiffs had to comply, substantial violations of First Amendment rights and the Spending Clause, potential loss of Title IX federal funds, pressure to change the State Plaintiffs’ laws, and invasion of the State Plaintiffs’ sovereignty.

Next steps

An appeal of Judge Reeves’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is likely. However, until Judge Reeve’s order is overturned, the new Title IX rule will not be enacted, implemented, enforced, or effective in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, and West Virginia.

These rules were supposed to go into effect on August 1, 2024. We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops. If you need help with a Title IX matter, the Student and Athlete Defense attorneys at KJK can help. Contact our office today at 216.696.8700 or submit this form.