The U.S. Senate on Wednesday confirmed a controversial nominee to the U.S. Department of Education who served in the Obama administration and who critics say was an extremist on religious liberty and LGBT issues.
The Senate confirmed Catherine Lhamon as assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education when Vice President Kamala Harris voted for Lhamon to break a 50-50 tie.
Lhamon also served as assistant secretary for civil rights during the Obama administration and then as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
During her tenure, she wrote a letter telling public schools they were in violation of federal law if they prohibited students from using the restroom or locker room that matched their gender identity. The Obama rule, for example, permitted a biological boy who identifies as a girl to use the girls’ restroom. Schools also were considered in violation of federal law if they prohibited transgender-identifying students from playing on the gender-specific sports team of their choosing.
“A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so,” she wrote.
“What will stop Lhamon from forcing schools to implement far-left transgender policies in collegiate sports and dorms?” National Review wrote in a column this summer criticizing her nomination.
Alliance Defending Freedom also was critical of the Biden administration for nominating her. ADF general counsel Kristen Waggoner called her a “far-left activist.”
“During her time in this position under the Obama administration, Ms. Lhamon led the charge on policies that allowed males to enter girls’ private spaces, violated the free speech and due process rights of students, and encouraged harassment of religious schools,” Waggoner wrote. “Now that she is back in this role, ADF will be watching closely to see if Ms. Lhamon decides to pick up where she left off. If she, or any government official, attacks the fundamental freedoms of students and religious schools, ADF will remain steadfast in our commitment to advocate for safety and equal opportunities for women, free speech, and religious liberty.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.