Under the Trump administration, the Department of Education ushered through a series of controversial and discriminatory regulatory changes to Title IX – the federal civil rights law that protects students from discrimination in federally-funded educational activities and programs – dismantling long-standing protections and opening the door to sex-based discrimination against LGBTQ students.
- As part of these changes, requirements that federally-funded schools report sexual assault were relaxed and dismantled – creating more hurdles for survivors of sexual assault to seek justice, while giving more rights to alleged perpetrators of sexual violence.
- The Trump Administration aimed to turn back the clock to a time when our schools swept rape, sexual assault, and harassment under the rug – the changes blatantly disregarded survivors of sexual violence by letting schools off the hook for Title IX obligations.
- These changes further threatened LGBTQ students and women, who face disproportionately high rates of sex-based discrimination and stigma that can make it more difficult for LGBTQ survivors to report sexual assault and harassment.
- Studies suggest that nearly half of bisexual women have been raped and half of transgender people will experience sexual violence at some point in their lifetimes. According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a national survey of high school students, lesbian and bisexual women and gay and bisexual men experienced higher rates of sexual assault than their straight counterparts. In addition, a 2015 study by the Association of American Universities found that 60 percent of gay and lesbian students and nearly 70 percent of bisexual students report being sexually harassed on campus.
- The Department of Education also ruled that a Connecticut policy allowing transgender athletes to compete in sports that align with their gender identity was a violation of Title IX – the first public incidence of the Department claiming that transgender inclusion violates Title IX.
- The Trump administration’s changes to Title IX also made it easier for religiously-affiliated schools to avoid publicly disclosing if they plan to seek a Title IX exemption, keeping students and parents in their dark on whether the school intends to follow federal anti-discrimination law.
In March, President Biden issued Executive Order 14021 to begin the process of undoing the Trump administration’s harmful actions undermining Title IX and protections for LGBTQ students.
- The executive order directed the federal government to ensure federally-funded facilities and educational environments are free from sexual harassment, sexual violence, and discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
- Given the discrimination and harassment that LGBTQ students experience regularly in schools and the current wave of harmful state legislation targeting LGBTQ students, this action was an important step toward fostering more inclusive and safe schools for all.
Under President Biden’s direction, the Department of Education is now conducting a comprehensive review of Title IX regulations to address the discriminatory changes made by the Trump administration and ensure LGBTQ students are able to learn and grow in environments free of harassment and discrimination.
- The review includes gathering public feedback to determine what changes to the Department’s Title IX guidelines and any related agency actions may be necessary to fulfill the Executive Order and President Biden’s commitment to ensuring equal and nondiscriminatory access to education for students at all educational levels.
The Human Rights Campaign applauds President Biden for taking action to protect LGBTQ students and strongly supports new regulations at the Department of Education to address the Trump Administration’s changes to Title IX and ensure sexual orientation and gender identity are covered by the law’s provisions preventing discrimination
- The Biden administration has already taken steps to fight for LGBTQ equality in our country, and this Executive Order and rule-making process is just the latest example of the president’s commitment to ensuring full equality for all Americans.
- The Biden administration’s Department of Justice also recently clarified that Title IX does prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in federally-funded education institutions – clearing the path for robust enforcement by the Department of Education to prevent and combat such discrimination.
- No transgender child should be denied access to a restroom consistent with their gender identity, denied the opportunity to update their name or pronouns in school systems, or face unequal enforcement of dress and grooming codes — yet these instances of discrimination and others are common in schools nationwide.
- With as many as one in six youth identifying as LGBTQ, it is crucial that the Department of Education make it clear that Title IX is on the side of all LGBTQ students.