UPDATED: This article has been updated since publication to include university responses.

UPDATE: A&M paused the implementation on 5/7.

Gov. Greg Abbott is instructing Texas’ public universities to ignore a controversial rewrite of Federal Title IX rules by the Biden administration that would threaten the privacy and safety of female students.

Last month, the Biden administration rolled out a nearly 1,500-page rewrite of Title IX rules—the federal civil rights law originally designed to prohibit sex-based discrimination in education.

The new version would add “gender identity” as a protected class, forcing schools to allow biological males to use female spaces. If a school refuses to comply, federal funding would be withheld. 

The new rules are set to go into effect on August 1.

But while Abbott had instructed the Texas Education Agency, which oversees Texas’ K-12 schools, to ignore the new rules, recent reporting revealed that Texas A&M University was “scrambling” to implement the new rules.

In a recent article by the student newspaper The Battalion, Rick Olshak—the university system’s Director of Title IX and Student Conduct Compliance—lamented the fact that the new regulations did not go far enough in extending to transgender competition in athletics.

“The Biden administration left out the most polarizing piece of the regulation, which is transgender participation in athletics,” Olshak said. “So, we were very disappointed when we heard the rumor that this part would be left out. But we also understood that it is April before the election.” 

In a letter to Texas’ public university systems, Abbott directed each school to “ignore President Biden’s unlawful Tile IX rewrite.”

“As I have already made clear, Texas will not comply with President Joe Biden’s rewrite of Title IX that contradicts the original purpose and spirit of the law to support the advancement of women,” reads the letter. “Last week, I instructed the Texas Education Agency to ignore President Biden’s illegal dictate of Title IX. Today, I am instructing every public college and university in the State of Texas to do the same.”  

I signed laws to ensure the safety of our students on campus and provide a process for adjudicating reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault with adequate due process for all parties involved, as well as laws to protect the integrity of women’s sports by prohibiting men from competing against female athletes​—​and ​I will not let President Biden erase the advancements Texas has made.

According to Abbott’s office, the letter was sent to Texas A&M University System, Texas Southern University, Texas State University System, Texas Tech University System, Texas Women’s University System, University of Houston System, University of North Texas System, and University of Texas System, as well as Texas’ community colleges. 

Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration, calling the rewrite “plainly illegal, undemocratic, and divorced from reality.”

Texas Scorecard reached out to all university systems for comment.

Texas A&M replied with the following statement:

Texas A&M complies with all federal and state laws and regulations, as well as Texas A&M System policy. The recent updates to Title IX regulations will require extensive changes to our current operations, and our AVP of Title IX Compliance appropriately initiated steps toward the need to comply with a new federal regulation that goes into effect on Aug. 1. She worked with the Texas A&M System Title IX Compliance Office to begin this process. No changes have been made at this point – only efforts to begin preparing for the necessary changes. On May 7, Texas A&M University received guidance from The Texas A&M University System notifying us that both the regulations and the legal challenge filed by Attorney General Paxton are under review to determine the System’s course of action going forward, and additional information will be provided soon.

Texas Southern University, the Texas State University System, the Texas Tech University System, the Texas Women’s University System, the University of Houston System, the University of North Texas System, and the University of Texas System did not respond as of publication.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens