Biden’s Secretary of Education announced last week that Title IX protections against sex-based discrimination in federally funded schools extended to transgender students based on gender identity.
“We just want to double down on our expectations,” said Secretary Miguel A. Cardona according to The New York Times. “Students cannot be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity.”
The Times continues:
The decision was rooted in a Supreme Court ruling last year that determined that protections in the Civil Rights Act against discrimination in the workplace extended to gay and transgender people, and similar interpretations of the ruling have appeared in agencies throughout President Biden’s government. His administration has conducted a sweeping effort to rescind, revise or revoke a number of Trump-era policies that rolled back transgender rights.
Two months into his presidency, Mr. Biden directed Mr. Cardona to conduct an expansive review of all policies related to the law. That decision came just after the administration in February retracted its support for a Trump-era lawsuit seeking to block transgender students from participating in girls’ high school sports. The Office for Civil Rights also reversed the Trump administration’s decision to withhold federal funding from schools in Connecticut that allowed transgender girls and women to compete on female sports teams.
“I think that the Trump administration really tried to muddy the waters on its way out the door,” said American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT and HIV Project senior staff attorney Josh Block. The announcement, Block said, was a “very simple and very clear” interpretation of the Title IX rule, but the department still needs “to put more flesh on the bones about what discrimination really means.”
The process of reporting and investigating claims of discrimination, however, will not change.
“The reality is each case has to be investigated individually,” Mr. Cardona said, adding that schools should “not wait for complaints to come to address these issues.”
Critics of the announcement, however, feel that the interpretation of the rule will not affect states that bar transgender athletes from participating in school sports according to their chosen gender.
“Some schools, especially in the states where there is legislation, will simply ignore what the federal government says,” said R. Shep Melnick, a politics professor at Boston College. “And then it becomes a question of whether the federal government wants to take enforcement action, which I think they may be somewhat reluctant to do.”
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