New Title IX rules would extend protections to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity | Education News

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The Biden administration hopes to expand the scope of Title IX protections against sex discrimination to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity — a potentially historic gain for LGBTQ students that comes as the Education and gender roles figure prominently in American culture. wars and states pursue a deluge of laws that seek to restrict LGBTQ rights.

“Our goal was to give full effect to the reach of the law and deliver on its promise to protect all students from gender-based harassment and discrimination,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said during a briefing. an appeal to reporters on Thursday to describe the administration’s decision. proposed set of new Title IX rules.

“Our proposed changes would fully protect students from all forms of gender discrimination,” he said. “Instead of limiting certain protections to sexual harassment alone, it is clear that those protections include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Much of the decision to expand Title IX protections to cover discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity stems from the 2020 Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia. , which ruled that an employer cannot fire an employee because they are gay or transgender. In March 2021, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division released an interpretation of the ruling, extending its application to schools.

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“We sought to align our Title IX regulations with the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which ruled that it is impossible to discriminate against a person because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. gender without discriminating against that person because of their sex,” Cardona said. “It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to ensure that all of our students can learn, grow and thrive in school, no matter where they live, who they are, who they love or how they are. ‘identify.’

The proposed rules come at a time when LGBTQ students are reporting poor mental health, emotional abuse from a parent or caregiver, and suicide attempts at alarming levels. According to Project Trevor 2022 National Survey of the Mental Health of LGBTQ Youth, 45% have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year and 60% of those who wanted and sought mental health support were unable to obtain.

“Together, we must seize this opportunity to better protect LGBTQ youth who face bullying and harassment, experience higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicide, and too often grow up feeling like they don’t. don’t belong,” Cardona said. “Today we send a strong message to these students and to all of our students – you belong in our schools, you have worthy dreams and incredible talents, you deserve the opportunity to shine authentically and unapologetically.”

Among other things, the proposed rules would also expand the definition of gender-based harassment, require schools to investigate claims that occur off-campus, and remove the requirement that an investigation include a live hearing — although they may. still. The proposed rules would also emphasize that schools must protect students and employees who are pregnant or have pregnancy-related conditions and – maintaining a rule from the DeVos era – ensure that no disciplinary action is taken. taken against the accuser or the accused until the investigation is completed.

Notably, the Department of Education announced plans to go through a separate rule-making process to determine how schools should decide the eligibility of men’s and women’s sports teams — a decision Cardona said was due. to the fact that standards are changing in real time, hinting at the growing number of conservative states passing legislation banning transgender girls and women from playing sports.

The Education Department began the process of rewriting the Title IX rules last summer, seeking input from students, teachers, athletes, parents, elected officials, higher education officials, survivors of sexual assaults and persons accused of sexual assaults.

“From day one, we prioritized audience input,” Cardona said. “We listened to stakeholders to learn where the 2020 regulations went wrong and what they did right.”

The proposed rules bring the Biden administration one step closer to officially rolling back Title IX rules crafted under former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, which raised the bar on evidence of sexual assault and misconduct, freed up schools from to investigate incidents that occur off-campus and strengthen the rights of those accused.

The rule, which was intended to counter an Obama-era directive that pressured schools to lower the bar on evidence, sparked an outcry from Democrats, civil rights groups and government officials. other people working on campus assault issues who said it would catapult students and schools back to a time when sexual assault was routinely swept under the rug. The majority of the 124,000 public comments submitted when DeVos first proposed the Title IX rule were opposed to the measure, and when finalized, it sparked dozens of lawsuits, including one involving 17 states and the District of Columbia. .

Civil rights groups and organizations working to stem campus sexual assault celebrated the proposed rules, which were originally scheduled to be released in April.

“This rule is a necessary step in rolling back the wrongdoings of Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration’s weakening of sexual harassment protections in schools, and a step toward asserting the rights of pregnant and parenting students and LGBTQI+ students to learn in safety and dignity,” Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center, said in a statement. “To fulfill Title IX’s promise to protect all students, we urge the Biden administration to act quickly to affirm the ability of trans students to fully participate in sports.”

The restoration of protections for victims of sexual assault and harassment on campus comes at a time when the most recent federal data from the Civil Rights Data Collection shows that incidents of sexual violence in public schools have increased. by more than half between the 2015-2016 school year and the 2017-2018 school year, and cases of rape or attempted rape have almost doubled.

Of course, the proposed regulations were not without criticism. Some lambasted the elimination of what they saw as hard-won due process rights for students accused in the era of #MeToo, and Republicans lamented that the new rules extend Title IX protections to beyond the original intent of the law.

“Expanding this legislation to include other designations such as sexual orientation and gender identity goes beyond the intent of Congress,” said Representative Virginia Foxx, Republican of North Carolina, prominent member of the House Education and Labor Committee, during a speech in the chamber. ground Thursday. “It also dilutes protections for women and, in some cases, threatens their safety.”

Cardona refuted these criticisms.

“I strongly reject efforts to politicize these protections and sow division in our schools,” he said. “Everyone should agree that all students and all children and young people deserve an education based on equity, understanding and belonging. It’s personal for me as an educator and as a father. I want the same opportunities as my daughter, my son, and my transgender cousin so they can fulfill their potential and achieve their dreams.

The public will have 60 days to provide comments on the proposed regulations before the Ministry of Education makes them official.

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