Biden Administration’s Title IX Overhaul Promises Greater LGBTQIA+ Protections

Biden Administration’s Title IX Overhaul Promises Greater LGBTQIA+ Protections

In a monumental move, the Biden administration has solidified comprehensive new Title IX regulations aimed at safeguarding individuals in public schools from sex-based discrimination and harassment.

This significant step, finalised on Friday (19 April), signals a pivotal moment for LGBTQ+ rights in education, ensuring federal protection for LGBTQ+ students and bolstering measures against campus sexual assault.

“No one should have to abandon their educational aspirations due to discrimination”

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, in a call with reporters, emphasised the importance of these regulations, stating, “These regulations make it crystal clear that no one should have to abandon their educational aspirations due to discrimination, whether it’s based on pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other sex-based factors.”

Explicit protections for LGBTQ+ students are outlined in the finalised rules, with discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity expressly prohibited.

However, notably absent from the provisions are specific mentions of transgender athletes, who have increasingly become targets of discriminatory measures, particularly regarding their participation in school sports.

Initially, the administration intended to include policies preventing schools from imposing bans on transgender athletes. However, this provision was temporarily set aside, with many viewing it as a strategic move to navigate the contentious issue surrounding transgender athletes.

During a press call, a senior administration official addressed concerns about protections for transgender students, affirming that discrimination based on gender identity violates Title IX.

The official stressed that investigations would be conducted to address cases of harassment and hostile environments, ensuring schools comply with Title IX standards.

“And if, in an investigation, we determine that a student is harassed based on gender identity and subject to a hostile environment that meets the standard in these new regulations, then we would be able to find a violation, and we would be able to ensure that the school comes into compliance under Title IX.”

Title IX to protect LGBTQIA+ students

Title IX, a landmark civil rights law enacted in the wake of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, serves as a crucial safeguard against sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs.

Originally intended to address gender disparities in education, Title IX has evolved to encompass a broad spectrum of issues, including sexual harassment, assault, and gender-based discrimination.

Under the Obama administration, guidelines were issued to protect transgender students from sex-based discrimination under Title IX.

However, these protections were dismantled during the Trump era, with then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinding guidance on gender identity and narrowing the definitions of sexual harassment.

Now, with the inclusion of “gender identity” in the list of protected categories, LGBTQ+ students facing discrimination have recourse through Title IX regulations.

This update not only extends protections to LGBTQ+ individuals but also enhances safeguards for students and employees based on pregnancy-related conditions.

Secretary Cardona underscored the significance of these regulatory updates, emphasizing Title IX’s legacy of ensuring equal opportunities in education free from discrimination.

He stated, “These final regulations build on the legacy of Title IX by clarifying that all our nation’s students can access schools that are safe, welcoming, and respect their rights.”


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