Cox signs legislation preventing Utah from complying with new Title IX regulations

Utah Governor Spencer Cox put his signature on six bills passed by the Legislature during the recent special session. One of the bills included a resolution that prohibits government officials from adhering to a Title IX update that bars discrimination based on gender identity.

Lawmakers voted on party lines when they approved two resolutions, HCR301 and HJR301, stating their refusal to follow the federal directive extending Title IX protections to transgender students, allowing them to participate in sports teams and use facilities according to their gender identification.

This action solidifies the implementation of the recently passed Utah Constitutional Sovereignty Act, giving the state the authority to resist federal policies deemed as “overreach” by the legislators.

During the legislative discussion, it was mentioned that the upcoming Title IX regulations, taking effect in August, clash with state laws that prohibit transgender individuals from utilizing facilities corresponding to their gender identity. This is in conjunction with HB11, which disallows transgender students from joining sports teams based on their gender identity, among other relevant regulations.

Once in 2022, Cox vetoed HB11, pointing out significant issues with the bill and criticizing a late amendment preventing transgender students from participating in sports based on their gender alignment.

“I must admit, I am not an expert on transgenderism. I struggle to understand so much of it and the science is conflicting. When in doubt however, I always try to err on the side of kindness, mercy and compassion,” expressed Cox in a letter to the Legislature in 2022, acknowledging his ongoing efforts to learn about and support the transgender community.

Regardless of Cox’s veto, the Legislature proceeded to overturn it.

Without immediate elaboration, Cox signed the resolutions on Friday, abstaining from comments on the reasons behind his decision.

In January, Cox swiftly endorsed HB257, which limits transgender individuals from using bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity in state-owned facilities. His statement highlighted the goal of ensuring public facilities are safe and inclusive for everyone through enhanced privacy protections.

Representative Kera Birkland, R-Morgan, who sponsored HCR301, voiced hopes that other states would follow Utah’s path by disregarding the new Title IX regulations, except for HB11 and HB257.

“Hopefully this all gets us one step closer to congressional action that protects and preserves women’s sports,” Birkeland expressed.

Under the resolution and the Utah Constitutional Sovereignty Act, the directive not to conform with federal law extends to K-12 institutions and higher education, Birkland elaborated.

“Utah will follow state law and not an unconstitutional rule from unelected bureaucrats under the Biden Administration,” she added.

HJR301, a joint resolution aligned with HCR301’s objective, did not require Cox’s signature.

In addition to these measures, Cox approved a revision that adjusts the terms of a controversial bill extending the operational life of the Intermountain Power Plant’s coal facilities, with an agreement supported by the Intermountain Power Agency.

Further changes to the Utah code include regulations regarding the involvement of exchange students in the statewide online education program and other initiatives addressing “federal overreach on public lands,” as indicated in the session’s proclamation.

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