In yet another effort to revoke Trump-era policy, the Biden administration announced it would include sexual orientation and gender identity in the protections provided by Title IX — the federal law that prevents sex-based discrimination in American education.
The Department of Education (DoE) said it was motivated by last year’s historic Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, where the court held that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is essentially discrimination based on sex.
“The Supreme Court has upheld the right for LGBTQ+ people to live and work without fear of harassment, exclusion, and discrimination – and our LGBTQ+ students have the same rights and deserve the same protections,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.
Today, @EDcivilrights issued a Notice of Interpretation explaining that it will enforce Title IX’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex to include:
🔸 discrimination based on sexual orientation
🔸 discrimination based on gender identityhttps://t.co/LT50Rlb3MB pic.twitter.com/KvAFVBe18R
— U.S. Department of Education (@usedgov) June 16, 2021
What This Means
The directive will allow DoE to investigate civil rights complaints by transgender students who are prohibited from using school facilities aligned with their gender identity.
Experts are skeptical whether the policy will impact states that have already passed laws barring transgender student athletes from playing sports that correspond with their gender identity. So far, 31 states have introduced these bills and five have already enacted laws.
“Transgender athletes are students, first and foremost, and they deserve every right that every other student gets,” including the right to participate in sports, Cardona said in an interview that he tweeted soon after the department announced the policy.
DoE’s latest move comes in a series of sweeping changes made by the Biden administration to rescind Donald Trump’s policies.
Earlier this year, the Office for Civil Rights reversed a Trump administration decision to withhold federal aid from Connecticut schools that allowed trans women to compete on women’s sports teams.
In April, DoE officials invited students and faculty to share insights on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. Cardona said thousands of concerned educators, parents, and students wanted the department to deliberate on the existing rules.
“We are in the process now of synthesizing that information as we go to the next steps of actually developing our rules,” Cardona said on Tuesday, stating that the department is planning to move as quickly as possible. “We know many folks are waiting,” he said.