College heads urge Betsy DeVos to 'do everything you can' to halt proposed Title IX changes

The heads of three universities wrote a letter to Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, urging her to "do everything" she can to halt the Trump administration's proposed Title IX changes.

The co-signers wrote that the proposed changes would lead to the country "turn[ing] its back" on transgender individuals, a claim that DeVos has denied.

The heads of three universities have penned a letter to the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, urging her to “do everything” she can to stop the Trump administration’s proposed changes to Title IX.

Rutgers University President Robert Barchi, Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber, and University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank expressed their disapproval of the proposed changes in an open letter on Thursday.

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”As presidents and chancellors of leading American research universities, we write to express our deep concern and dismay at reports of possible withdrawal of federal agency protections for transgender people,” the letter reads. “We appeal to you to do everything you can to prevent such action and to uphold the dignity of all persons.”

The proposed Title IX changes under the Trump administration would not include a legal definition of “gender,” limiting one’s gender identity to that of the sex they are assigned at birth: either male or female. But, according to the three co-signers of the letter to DeVos, “such a narrow and binary definition would have the effect of rolling back important protections against discrimination on the basis of gender and gender identity.”

”These protections are important because transgender Americans in all parts of the country, including students and others on our campuses, have faced discrimination, isolation, and harassment,” the letter adds. “This is no time for the country to turn its back on these valued members of our communities.  We hope you will provide needed leadership in opposing the proposed change, and that you will strongly advocate for an interpretation of Title IX (and other federal laws) that fully protects the rights of transgender people—an interpretation grounded in the law, medical judgment, compassion, and a firm commitment to respect the dignity of all Americans.”

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DeVos denies that these individuals would be marginalized under the proposed changes, as the letter suggests. Democratic Senators Cory Booker, Patty Murray, and Kirsten Gillibrand sent a letter to DeVos on Oct. 12 asking the secretary to postpone the proposed changes.  

”Sec. @BetsyDeVosED’s wants to weaken student protections so—an unmarried mother may be denied admission, a woman could be thrown out for using birth control & an LGBTQ student could be subjected to cruel punishment at school. This is unacceptable,” Murray later tweeted. 

DeVos responded to Murray on Twitter, saying, “This is completely false and you know it, @PattyMurray. It’s also unbecoming and irresponsible of a U.S. Senator to sow fear and falsehood. Our efforts will restore #DueProcess and support all students, including survivors.”

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