Title IX, Biden Administration

LGBTQ And Pregnant Sexual Assault Victims Get Title IX Protections From Biden Administration

Way to go, Biden Administration!

The Biden administration finalized new Title IX regulations that add protections for transgender people and increase protections for victims of sexual assault or harassment and pregnant people.

For the first time, as of Apr. 19, new regulations add “gender identity” officially to the list of protections from sex-based discrimination — though the administration claims they had already been applying this standard. In a statement, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona celebrated the move as building on Title IX’s legacy, a law established in 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded school programs. “For more than 50 years, Title IX has promised an equal opportunity to learn and thrive in our nation’s schools free from sex discrimination,” Cardona said. 

“These final regulations build on the legacy of Title IX by clarifying that all our nation’s students can access safe, welcoming schools that respect their rights.”

Going into effect Aug. 1, 2024, new updates provide a clearer definition than those established by former President Donald Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Now, “sex-based harassment” includes “sexual violence and unwelcome sex-based conduct that creates a hostile environment by limiting or denying a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from a school’s education program or activity.”

“Our nation’s educational institutions should be places where we not only accept differences but celebrate them,” Cardona said. 

“Places that root out hate and promote inclusion, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because our systems and institutions are richer for it.” 

Under the new interpretation, schools could violate Title IX if they refuse to use the pronouns that correspond with a student’s gender identity.

In-person, court-like proceedings for allegations of sexual assault, including cross-examination of alleged victims, are no longer a requirement under the new rules. The move pushes aside rules made by the Trump administration that victim advocates say added a level of trauma to survivors and discouraged reporting, according to NPR. Now, schools will have the flexibility to question witnesses in live hearings or separate meetings. 

If a school chooses to hold a live hearing, alleged victims have the option to attend remotely.

The definition of what counts as sexual harassment is also broadened so more cases can qualify as serious enough to require a school investigation, as Trump’s regulations narrowed harassment to what is “objectively offensive.” Lastly, updates expand on protections for students, employees, and applicants against discrimination “based on pregnancy, childbirth, termination of pregnancy, lactation, related medical conditions, or recovery from these conditions.”

Some officials like Catherine Lhamon, Education Department assistant secretary for civil rights, praised the updates, saying, “Title IX requires more, and these final regulations provide it.” 

But others immediately rejected them. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, opposed the updates, claiming “it dumps kerosene on the already raging fire that is Democrats’ contemptuous culture war that aims to racially redefine sex and gender.”

The only decision not identified on the administration’s proposal was a ban on transgender athletes from participating on teams corresponding with their gender identity. The controversial move is still pending.