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New Title IX rules strengthen protections for trans students but don’t address sports bans

The Department of Education on Friday announced new rules updating Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded schools.

The new regulations — which explicitly protect all students from discrimination, including survivors of sexual assault and those who identify as LGBTQ — advance the landmark civil law’s promise of “ensuring that no person experiences sex discrimination in federally funded education,” the Education Department said in a news release.

“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,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said Friday in a statement. “These final regulations build on the legacy of Title IX by clarifying that all our nation’s students can access schools that are safe, welcoming and respect their rights.”

But notably, the changes failed to address the participation of transgender students in sports activities. The administration had originally planned to include provisions to prohibit schools from enacting anti-trans sports bans. But the “rulemaking process” for a new Title IX regulation related to athletics is still “ongoing,” officials said.

The highly anticipated update to Title IX, which comes after months of pressure from advocacy groups, codifies protections for LGBTQ+ students and reinstates protections for survivors of sexual assault and harassment that had been rolled back under the Trump administration.

Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who in May 2020 announced new protections for people accused of campus sexual harassment, took to social media Friday morning to criticize what she called Biden’s “radical re-write of #TitleIX,” adding the federal law will now be used to “harm women.”

But the new rules were welcomed as “life-changing for so many LGBTQ+ youth,” Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, told the Daily News via email.

“[It’ll] help ensure LGBTQ+ students can receive the same educational experience as their peers: going to dances, safely using the restroom, and writing stories that tell the truth about their own lives,” Robinson said.

“School administrators should take note and immediately act to implement anti-bias and anti-bullying and harassment programs that ensure misgendering stops, that cruelty against LGBTQ+ students ends and that every student has access to an education free of discrimination,” she added.

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks on the 59th commemoration of the Bloody Sunday Selma bridge crossing on March 3, 2024 in Selma, Alabama. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris called for an "immediate ceasefire" in Gaza in her remarks but reiterated that Israel has "a right to defend itself."

Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, pictured last month, announced the release of the new regulations on Friday. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

Rep. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat and the chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, also applauded Friday’s announcement, praising the Biden administration’s ongoing “commitment to defending LGBTQI+ students’ right to a safe and affirming learning environment.”

Casey Pick, director of law and policy at The Trevor Project, the nation’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth, said the new rules are an “important step” in the protection of LGBTQ students who face discrimination “simply for being themselves.”

However, the rule doesn’t include language to explicitly protect trans student athletes from discrimination — and “that must be addressed,” she said.


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