Department of Education Confirms Title IX Protects Gay and Transgender Students

June 16, 2021 by Ansley Puckett
Georgetown University. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON- The U.S. Department of Education confirmed Wednesday that Title IX protects students from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex in any educational activity or program offered by public schools or recipients of federal financial assistance. This interpretation will now extend the Office for Civil Rights’ investigations of Title IX compliance to discrimination against gay and transgender students.

“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. “Today, the Department makes clear that all students—including LGBTQ+ students—deserve the opportunity to learn and thrive in schools that are free from discrimination.”

The interpretation stems from the 2020 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock vs. Clayton County that recognized that discrimination against a person based on their sexual orientation or gender is also discrimination against that person based on their sex. 

This decision differs from the DOE stance during the Trump administration, which stated the Supreme Court ruling did not offer transgender student protection.

Now, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights said it will enforce the new interpretation of Title IX. It also recently reported that LGBTQ+ students often face additional challenges in schools, and 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported poor mental health due in part to harassment or bullying in educational settings.

“The Department of Education strives to provide schools with the support they need to create learning environments that enable all students to succeed, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Suzanne B. Goldberg. 

“Equity in education means all students have access to schools that allow them to learn and thrive in all aspects of their educational experience.”

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