Hundreds of thousands of Americans, including hundreds of Alaskans, sent their comments to the Department of Education about the reinterpretation of the laws protecting women and girls in sports, and made sure their comments arrived before the comment period ended on Monday. Now, the Department of Education has apparently ditched more than 160,000 of those comments, and says that the loss was due to a clerical error.
The Department of Education is proposing new regulatory interpretations of Title IX, which prohibits discrimination in school athletic programs based on gender. The Biden Administration is seeking to include mandates that require schools to allow gender-confused males to use locker rooms and bathrooms previously reserved for girls, and vice versa. The new regulations may mean mandates on hiring and forced use of a person’s “preferred pronoun,” such as “he,” “she” or “they/them.” The rule would ban “all forms of sex discrimination, including discrimination based on sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The Education Department had last week logged over 349,000 comments, but by Friday, the number mysteriously had dropped to 184,009, a loss of over 160,000.
Politico reported Tuesday that the Regulations.gov website tracking the number of submitted comments had logged over 349,000 comments about Education Secretary Miguel Cardona’s proposed Title IX rule overhaul. But by Friday, three days later, the total number of comments had dropped to 184,009—a decrease of more than 160,000 comments.
According to Politico, the reason for the drop in the number of comments is due to a “clerical error.” The explanation from the department is that comments unrelated to the proposed regulation boosted the number of comments by about 200,000.
Alaska State Sen. Shelley Hughes was one of the thousands who gathered hundreds public comments in advance of the deadline.
“The fact that the number of public comments decreased by 200,000 overnight – mysteriously vanished – is extremely disconcerting. How on earth will we be able to trust the tally of the pros and cons? We won’t,” she said. “On a proposed rule of such keen national interest – one that will literally impact millions of girls and women if implemented – the Biden administration needs to reopen the comment period. “
If the decreased submissions were due to a “clerical error” as they claim, “Biden should have nothing to hide and will reopen the public comment period,” Hughes said. “If he doesn’t, we can conclude Biden doesn’t want us to know where Americans stand on girls losing spots on sports teams and what we think about girls being forced to undress and share locker room showers with biological males present. We’ll conclude he has already made up his mind and our voices don’t matter.”
Hughes continued, “If that’s the case, we’ll see you in court, Mr. President. No way, no how will we stand by and let you decimate Title IX and harm our daughters, granddaughters, sisters and nieces.”
Catherine Lhamon, the Education Department’s civil rights chief, indicated to Politico that it’s unlikely the agency will extend its comment period on its proposed Title IX rule despite GOP lawmakers requesting an extension.
Supporters say the new interpretation will ensure greater equality in employment for LGBT workers. Critics have warned that it could mean new mandates on hiring, accommodations and compulsive use of “preferred pronouns.”