Jonathan Lange: Thankfully Wyoming Is Fighting Back Over Title IX Rule Changes

Columnist Jonathan Lange writes, "The rules harm Wyoming citizens not only by forcing young women to disrobe in the presence of males. They also coerce teachers and students to parrot pronouns or risk fines, loss of tenure, and harassment charges by the school’s thought police."

Jonathan Lange

May 17, 20245 min read

Jonathan lange
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

On April 19, 2024, the U.S. Department of Education released its Final Rule to “clarify the scope and application of Title IX.”

It took 423 pages containing nearly half a million words to “clarify” the 1972 law that says, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Before the month was out, 15 states filed four separate lawsuits challenging the new rule. A week later seven more states filed two additional suits. This week Wyoming, Utah and Alaska joined the fray by signing on to a lawsuit led by the attorney general of Kansas.

The 85-page complaint names well over a hundred ways that the new rules violate the United States Constitution and an array of federal laws.

To read these new federal rules is to go down the rabbit hole with Alice in Wonderland. “Instead of focusing on the true mission of Title IX, which is to protect women and girls from discrimination in education and to protect and promote women’s and girls’ sports, the [ideologues at the DOE] attempt to rewrite it entirely” (Kansas v. US Department of Education, p. 2).

They didn’t just “miss the mark,” they were aiming at something altogether different. “The Final Rule’s new ‘interpretation’ of Title IX is so convoluted and implausible it cannot be ascribed to a difference in agency expertise,” concludes the filing. It is “arbitrary and capricious [and] departs sharply from past practice without reasonable explanation and with no legal basis.”

“Wyoming chose to join this [particular] coalition because the suit was filed in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Wyoming’s home circuit,” wrote Michael Pearlman, spokesman for Governor Gordon. “In addition, the attorney general’s office viewed this lawsuit as a broader challenge, which incorporates concerns over fairness in sports.”

Senator Wendy Schuler’s (R-Evanston) “Fairness in women’s sports act” (SF 51) looks less “draconian” now than it did when the governor allowed it to pass into law without his signature. Three of Wyoming’s top five elected officials even got into a bit of a dustup over who was more serious about challenging the DOE rules in court.

The DOE rules harm Wyoming citizens not only by forcing young women to disrobe in the presence of males. They also coerce teachers, students, and campus visitors to parrot pronouns and neo-pieties or risk fines, loss of tenure, and harassment charges by the school’s thought police.

Less widely known, the Final Rule would roll back the due process reforms that were instituted in September 2020 after hundreds of young men were subjected to campus kangaroo courts that denied their most basic rights.

There is also a larger issue here. When more than half of the sovereign states in the Union sue the federal government, it can no longer be treated as a one-off. Plainly, the Federal government is out of control. The DOE Final Rule is only the latest outrage.

Wyoming is also under assault from the Bureau of Land Management. Both its Rock Springs Resource Management Plan and its proposed sage grouse management plan could not target Wyoming’s way of life more effectively than if that were their aim.

Likewise, only days before suing the DOE, Wyoming joined two dozen other states in suing the Environmental Protection Agency over new draconian rules designed to destroy the energy industry. More recently, the Center for Medicaid Services issued a Final Rule of its own that threatens to bankrupt nursing homes and hospitals that receive Medicaid patients.

There is a blitzkrieg against states’ rights and the people of Wyoming expect their elected officials to treat it for what it is. We should be delighted when three of our top elected officials are squabbling over who is best fighting Federal overreach. It would be even better if the state auditor and treasurer also joined the fray.

Legislators, too, need to understand the threat. When federal financial assistance is regularly weaponized against the citizens of Wyoming, lawmakers should not only call for vigorous legal defense, but they should also be far more wary of accepting federal dollars in the first place.

Wyoming didn’t ask for this blitzkrieg. But, now that we are in it, it’s time to act with courage and determination. 

Jonathan Lange is a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod pastor in Evanston and Kemmerer and serves the Wyoming Pastors Network. Follow his blog at Email:

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Jonathan Lange