RALEIGH — The Biden administration’s Department of Education has revived an Obama-era policy regarding Title IX which bars discrimination on the basis of sexual or gender identity.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is supposed to protect individuals from sex-based discrimination in education activities or programs that receive federal financial funding or assistance.
On June 16, the U.S. Department of Education issued a Notice of Interpretation declaring their intention to enforce Title IX’s prohibition on sex-based discrimination to also include prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“The Department’s interpretation stems from the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, issued one year ago this week, in which the Supreme Court recognized that it is impossible to discriminate against a person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity without discriminating against that person based on sex,” the U.S. Department of Education press release reads.
“The Supreme Court has upheld the right for LGBTQ+ people to live and work without fear of harassment, exclusion, and discrimination — and our LGBTQ+ students have the same rights and deserve the same protections. 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 in the statement. “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.”
In May of 2016, the Obama Administration issued a “Dear Colleague” letter that cited Title IX and included guidance requiring requires schools to grant students access to bathrooms and locker rooms based on a student’s self-declared gender identity. The guidance also included shared areas like hotel rooms used for overnight trips and dormitories.
Additionally, the Obama-era Title IX guidance compelled usage of a student’s preferred pronouns and required that a student be able to join a male or female sports team based on their self-announced gender identity.
Three months later, in August of 2016, a U.S. District Court Judge in Texas blocked the Obama administration guidance, ruling that redefining sex under Title IX in that manner violated the law.
The Trump administration would later rescind the Obama Title IX guidance in late February of 2017. The reversal under Biden opens the door for a return to the fight over bathroom, locker room and sports team access by students who identify as transgender.