Biden Administration to Restore and Expand Title IX Protections
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration plans to reinstate Title IX regulations tossed by the Trump White House in 2020, restoring crucial protections for students who have been victims of sexual assault, sexual harassement or sex-based discrimination.
In an announcement coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Title IX, formally known as the Education Amendments of 1972, the administration said the amendments being proposed will also include clarifying text to include protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity to strengthen the rights of LGBTQI+ students.
“Over the last 50 years, our nation has made monumental progress in advancing equity and equality for all students, including by narrowing gender gaps in sports, expanding opportunities in science and technology fields, and protecting students from sex discrimination, including sex-based harassment and sexual violence,” President Joe Biden said in White House statement.
“This is what America is all about: possibilities. Millions of women and girls have benefited from the change that Title IX helped make possible,” he added.
Former Education Secretary Betsey DeVos announced the Trump administration’s shift in policy in regard to Title IX in May 2020.
The sweeping changes contained in the 2,033-page document she unveiled narrowed the definition of sexual harassment and greatly reduced school’s reporting responsibilities after a complaint was filed by a victim.
It also dramatically strengtheneed the ability of the accused to fight such claims by directing schools to conduct live hearings with cross-examination for sexual misconduct investigations.
Under the Trump-era regulations, some forms of sex-based harassment weren’t even considered Title IX violations.
According to DeVos the changes made for a “more reliable adjudication process that is fair to all students.”
But victims and the advocates said what the Trump policy did was make it harder than ever to seek justice for such wrongs.
And that sentiment was reiterated by both the White House and the Education Department last month, when they said the Trump regulations “weakened protections for survivors of sexual assault and diminished the promise of an education free from discrimination.”
The long-awaited Biden plan would ban “all forms of sex discrimination, including discrimination based on sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation and gender identity” and does away with the live hearing requirements for Title IX investigations.
It also reverts the definition of sexual harassment back to “unwelcome sex-based conduct that creates a hostile environment by denying or limiting” a person’s ability to participate in a school’s education program or activity.
Under the proposal, schools that receive federal funds must protect transgender students from discrimination by allowing them to use bathrooms that match their gender identity and be addressed by their pronouns.
But what’s not so clear is how the rule would apply to athletics, a hot-button issue, particularly in Republican-controlled red states.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told reporters last month the subject would be taken up in a second rulemaking.
The department’s proposed Title IX rule will be open for public comment for 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.
“The proposed regulations reflect the department’s commitment to give full effect to Title IX, ensuring that no person experiences sex discrimination in education, and that school procedures for addressing complaints of sex discrimination, including sexual violence and other forms of sex-based harassment, are clear, effective, and fair to all involved,” said Catherine Lhamon, the Education Department’s assistant secretary for Civil Rights.
Elizabeth Hall, associate vice chancellor of equal opportunity and compliance and Title IX coordinator at UNC Chapel Hill, said the university is reviewing the proposed changes issued by the administration, “and will follow the formal rulemaking process to determine the impact of any proposed and final rules on policy and procedures.
“As we do so, we continue our ongoing commitment to the safety and well-being of our students,” she added.
Eden can be reached at email@example.com
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