On the 50th anniversary of Title IX’s inception, the Biden administration has proposed changes to the law that would protect transgender students and assault survivors on college and university campuses.
With these changes, the protections provided by Title IX — a civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools that receive federal funding — would now be extended to students who identify as trans. The update would ensure that government-funded schools make proper accommodations for a trans student population, like allowing students to use bathrooms and other facilities that align with their gender identity, and enforcing the use of students’ correct pronouns.
The revisions also seek to undo amendments made to the law by Betsy DeVos, who was secretary of education during the Trump presidency, which strengthened due-process protections for students accused of sexual assault and narrowed the definition of sexual harassment. These rules “weakened protections for survivors of sexual assault and diminished the promise of an education free from discrimination,” the Biden administration said.
“…Our proposed changes will allow us to continue that progress and ensure all our nation’s students — no matter where they live, who they are, or whom they love — can learn, grow, and thrive in school,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, EdD, said in a news release. “We welcome public comment on these critical regulations so we can further the Biden-Harris Administration’s mission of creating educational environments free from sex discrimination and sexual violence.”
The revisions will go through a long period of public comment before they are set into law. Still, the proposed changes mark a way forward for trans students who are not explicitly protected under Title IX, and they offer solace to assault survivors who may have felt discouraged to come forward and report under DeVos’s rules.
“The proposed regulations reflect the [Education] Department’s commitment to give full effect to Title IX, ensuring that no person experiences sex discrimination in education, and that school procedures for addressing complaints of sex discrimination, including sexual violence and other forms of sex-based harassment, are clear, effective, and fair to all involved,” said Catherine Lhamon, JD, assistant secretary for the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights.
More specific rules about transgender students’ participation in school sports are still to come.
US Department of Education: “The US Department of Education Releases Proposed Changes to Title IX Regulations, Invites Public Comment.”