Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) brought up President Biden's recent executive order "on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation."
The sweeping order stated the administration's policy of ensuring equal access to public goods such as high school sports or single-sex bathrooms, based on a person's gender identity. The order instructed all federal agencies to implement that policy.
Ryan Anderson, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, had said that the order "spells the end of girls' and women's sports as we know them," in that it would allow males identifying as female to compete in women's sports.
Baldwin urged Cardona to implement the order if he is confirmed as Education Secretary, and said that it was "critically important" for students to have a safe learning environment.
"As Secretary, how do you plan to change the tone set by your predecessor and communicate the department's support for LGBTQ students," Baldwin asked.
Cardona replied that it was "non-negotiable to make sure that our learning environments are places that are free of discrimination and harassment for all learners, including our LGBTQ students," and said that he would implement the order.
Elsewhere in the hearing, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) cited Catholic Schools Week as he emphasized the importance of schools reopening for in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also advocated for school choice vouchers for lower-income families to send their children to private schools.
Noting the "learning loss" of students who are not currently being educated in-person, Scott said that "as we celebrate Catholic Schools Week, we note that there are over five million students today in private schools, and many of those schools are open today."