(LifeSiteNews) — U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona refused to define the word “woman” during a House Appropriations Committee hearing Tuesday and dodged a question as to whether he thought it was fair for biological men to participate in women’s sports.
In an exchange with Republican Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde, Cardona was asked three times to define a woman and dodged Clyde’s questions each time.
When Clyde first asked Cardona to define what a woman is, Cardona responded by stating, “Our focus at the department is to provide equal access to students, including students who are LGBTQ, access free from discrimination.” When Clyde asked a second time, Cardona responded saying, “I think that’s almost secondary to the important role that I have as secretary of education.”
“My question’s not secondary, my question is very simple,” Clyde told Cardona. “What does [the Department of Health and Human Services] say the definition of a woman is?”
“I lead the Department of Education [DOE], and my job is to make sure that all students have access to public education, which includes co-curricular activities,” Cardona responded. “And I think you highlighted pretty well the importance of Title IX and giving students equal access, whether it’s scholarship and facilities and participation as well.”
When Clyde asked Cardona if he thought that biological men should be barred from competing in women’s sports, Cardona said that “all students” should have access to school sports.
Clyde further asked Cardona if biological men should be allowed into women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, to which Cardona responded, “It’s critically important that we make sure all students feel safe in their school environment. All students, and that’s the responsibility of our schools.”
When asked for clarification as to whether biological men should be allowed into “women’s private spaces,” Cardona said “the perspective of all students should be taken into account when decisions are made around facilities.”
A similar exchange took place between Cardona and Alabama Republican Rep. Robert Aderholt at Tuesday’s hearing.
“Under these proposed rules, a mediocre male athlete can simply identify as a female and go on to dominate women’s sports,” Aderholt said. “Simply put, I would just have to ask you to think about it. Do you think this is fair to biological girls?”
“Our focus at the Department of Education is to provide equal access, free from discrimination, for students,” responded Cardona.
“As we know, Title IX has helped, over the last 50 years, provide opportunities for girls and we’re proud of the work that we’re doing to make sure that, for example, the training facilities for girls have the same attention and funding as it does for boys. So, we are proud of the Title IX proposal. And the current proposal you are speaking about is just that, it’s a proposal and we have a window open for comments that we’re going to take very seriously.”
The exchanges follow a proposed DOE rule announced early this month that would change its Title IX regulations and bar all schools and colleges receiving federal funds from imposing a “one-size-fits-all” ban on students from joining sports leagues of the opposite sex on the basis of gender identity.
The proposed rule change, however, would allow schools “flexibility” to develop “team eligibility criteria” that serve “important educational objectives,” such as preserving fairness or preventing injury, with the criteria taking into account the sport, level of competition, and grade or education level to which they apply. The criteria would also have to be designed in such a way as to not purposefully exclude gender-confused students.
Public comment on the DOE’s proposed changes is open until May 15.
Clyde, addressing the proposed rule, told Cardona: “Through the Department of Education, President [Joe] Biden, in my opinion, is attempting to weaponize Title IX, morphing it from a law that protects women to a law that disadvantages or endangers women. Further, the department is doing so with taxpayer dollars, an action that spotlights where your and your president’s true priorities lie in my opinion.”
Cardona’s DOE has a history of using Title IX, a 1972 law designed to protect public education opportunities on the basis of sex, to promote gender ideology.
In June 2021, the DOE announced that its Office for Civil Rights (OCR) interprets Title IX’s prohibition on “sex discrimination” to also cover “sexual orientation and gender identity” and will “fully enforce” this interpretation “in education programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the Department.”
The following March, a report indicated that the DOE would extend Title IX to include gender-confused students. The DOE subsequently announced that it would delay releasing the changes following conservative pushback. The following July, the DOE released a proposed rule change that would allow for gender-confused students to use bathrooms in conformity with their gender identity.
A growing number of states have barred gender-confused students from participating in sports corresponding to their gender identity. Last week, Republican North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signed a bill that barred male students from participating in women’s and girls’ sports.