Washington DC. (CW44 News et 10 | CNN) — The Biden administration on Thursday proposed strengthening protections for transgender students under Title IX and controversial Trump-era guidance on how schools should handle sexual assault cases.
The new rules will clarify that Title IX protections against discrimination apply to sexual orientation and gender identity and that preventing someone from participating in a school program or activity consistent with their gender identity would be a violation of the law. Title IX, a landmark piece of legislation that was signed into law Thursday 50 years ago, prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded schools.
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President Joe Biden said in a statement Thursday that Title IX “changed our nation” and that the US had made “significant progress in advancing equality and equality for all students.”
But, he added, “there is still more work to do. As we look to the next fifty years, I want to defend this progress and advocate for full equality, inclusion and support for women and girls, LGBTQI+ Americans, all students, and all Americans.” Committed to work to earn respect.”
The Biden administration is also proposing to roll back a rule imposed by the Trump administration that provides more protections for those accused of sexual assault and assault on college campuses and narrows the definition of sexual misconduct on campuses.
The Trump-era changes received significant backlash from victim advocacy groups, which argued that the rules would discourage survivors from reporting sexual assault and harassment. Under Trump rules, colleges and universities are required to hold live hearings with both sides cross-examined. Then-Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos argued that guidance issued under the Obama administration deprived those accused of harassment or assault from due process and that the new rules would give those accused more rights.
The Education Department argued Thursday that the Trump administration “undermined protections for survivors of sexual assault and undermined the promise of a discrimination-free education.”
“These proposed rules will advance Title IX’s goal of ensuring that no person experiences sex discrimination in education, that all students receive the appropriate support needed to access equal educational opportunities, and that School procedures for investigating and resolving complaints of sexual discrimination, including sex-based harassment and sexual violence, are fair to everyone involved,” the department said.
The proposed changes face a public comment period before they are finalised.
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The new proposals come as conservative state lawmakers across the country have moved more than 100 anti-trans bills this year with a specific focus on transgender students. If approved, the changes could give LGBTQ advocates more legal ammunition as they challenge some of the recently enacted state laws in court.
Laws targeting trans students focus on many different areas of life. For example, in Oklahoma, Republican Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law last month that requires students in public schools and public charter schools to use restrooms and locker rooms that are on their birth certificates. Match the listed gender. Earlier this month, Louisiana banned transgender women and girls from competing on sports teams at all public and some private elementary and secondary schools and colleges. Many of these so-called sports restrictions have already been challenged in federal court, with judges temporarily barring West Virginia and Idaho from enforcing their restrictions over the past two years.
Several civil rights groups on Thursday praised the Biden administration’s proposals, saying the new rules would help protect LGBTQ youth from discrimination.
“This is a much-needed step in the right direction,” said Paul De Castillo, an attorney for Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ legal advocacy group.
“With LGBTQI+ students, and especially transgender and non-binary students, under attack from extremist politicians, these new rules will provide a strong, clear measure of recourse and ensure that victims of unlawful discrimination can protect themselves from Title IX.” to take advantage of long-term protection under
The Human Rights Campaign, one of the country’s largest LGBTQ rights groups, said that “by spelling out protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, it would protect a vulnerable population that is often victimized.”
“The proposed rule change is at the heart of Title IX – to protect students from sexual assault, sexual harassment and discrimination on campus,” said Sarah Warbello, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign. “These protections are especially important for female and LGBTQ+ students.”
Since taking office, Biden has taken a number of actions aimed at protecting LGBTQ rights and rolling back controversial moves made by the Trump administration. Last year, the Biden administration rescinded a Trump-era decision to end protections in health care for transgender patients. The Department of Housing and Urban Development also announced last year that protections under the Fair Housing Act would cover LGBTQ Americans. The move allowed the federal government to investigate complaints of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
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