The U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday announced that it will enforce Title IX’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex to including sexual orientation and gender identity.
The department said in their announcement that the interpretation, a change from the Trump administration, stemmed from the Bostock v. Clayton County decision, issued one year ago this week, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it is impossible to discriminate against a person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity without discriminating against that person 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. I’m proud to have directed the Office for Civil Rights to enforce Title IX to protect all students from all forms of sex discrimination,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
Activists across the country celebrated the news.
“As we continue working to pass the Equality Act, which will ensure clear and consistent non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual identity, gender orientation or expression, we applaud and appreciate the individuals working within our current system to ensure LGBTQ+ /SGL students feel seen, heard, and protected,” said David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition.
“Today, the Biden Administration has acted to uphold the fundamental rights of LGBTQ Americans. It’s essential that schools across the country heed this guidance,” said Erin Uritus, CEO of Out & Equal. “Amidst the devastating legislative season that has left too many transgender young people questioning where they can be safe, this is a meaningful step in the right direction. It’s time to nurture our young people, not shun them.”
“Transgender and nonbinary young people should feel safe going to school and know that they are protected from discrimination. The Trevor Project is grateful to the Department of Education for actively working to ensure that schools are safe and affirming spaces for transgender and nonbinary youth. We know that trans-affirming schools can be life-saving,” said Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project.
According to The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 75% of LGBTQ youth reported that they had experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity at least once in their lifetime, and more than half said they experienced this discrimination in the past year. Those who experienced discrimination in the past year attempted suicide at more than twice the rate of those who did not.
The Trump administration rolled back protections for trans students in 2019. Today marks the latest reversal of anti-LGBTQ policies in the federal government since President Joe Biden took office.
The Department of Education’s Notice of Interpretation is available here.
More information and resources for LGBTQ+ students are available here.