This week, the Biden administration opened an investigation into a Pennsylvania school district after a parental rights organization filed a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education because the school district hosted a STEM event solely for “girls and gender diverse students.”
In March, Townhall exclusively reported how the organization Parents Defending Education filed a federal civil rights complaint against Lower Merion School District in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. According to documents obtained by PDE and shared with Townhall, the school district hosted an academic event called “the inaugural Girls+ STEM Night.” The event is meant to “expose younger girls and gender diverse students to various STEM-related careers and fields in hopes that it will spark an interest to pursue science, technology, engineering and math inside and outside of the classroom” and promised to hold future events of the same nature.
“By its plain terms…only some students may attend this school program. It excludes others — and this exclusion is based solely on an individual’s sex,” PDE told Townhall. “As for the future ‘girls and gender diverse’ programming and networking opportunities, that too would confer a benefit on the basis of sex not offered to all students.”
The letter outlining the complaint noted that discrimination on the basis of sex violates Title IX, which states that “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.”
This week, the OCR sent a letter to PDE stating that an investigation would take place for Title IX violations.
“You allege that the District discriminates against students on the basis of sex because it offers Girls + STEM Night, which was open only to girls and gender diverse students. OCR also enforces Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and its implementing regulation, 34 C.F.R. Part 106 (Title IX), which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex by recipients of Federal financial assistance. As a recipient of Federal financial assistance from the Department, the District is subject to Title IX and its implementing regulations… CR will investigate this complaint because OCR has jurisdiction and the allegation was filed timely,” the letter said.
Earlier this year, PDE filed a complaint with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights after a public high school in Massachusetts restricted auditions for a school play for students who identify as people of color, which Townhall covered. In February, the organization unveiled documents that exposed a school district in Kansas for hiding students’ gender transitions from parents.
“Lower Merion has been flouting STEM programming on social media that is only open to some elementary students and flagrantly excludes others, based on their biological sex. Title IX protects students from discrimination on the basis of sex,” Caroline Moore, vice president of Parents Defending Education, told Townhall. “All students should be given the same opportunities to thrive, end of story. We hope this will be a reality check for Lower Merion.”
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