HomePoliticsThe Ministry of Education is strengthening legal defenses for transgender students

The Ministry of Education is strengthening legal defenses for transgender students

The Biden administration is stepping up efforts to codify new protections for transgender students and revise many of the Trump-era policies governing how schools should respond to sexual misconduct.

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona will unveil a final rule Friday that realigns the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX to prohibit “all forms of sex discrimination,” including discrimination based on sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy or related conditions.

The administration is touting the rule as the “most comprehensive coverage” students will receive in the nearly half-century of Title IX, the federal education law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex.

“No one should have to give up their dream of going to or finishing school because they are pregnant,” Cardona told reporters Thursday evening. “No one should face harassment or discrimination just because of who they are or who they love. Unfortunately, this happens all too often. These regulations promote accountability by requiring schools to take swift action in response to sex discrimination.”

The changes drew praise from civil rights advocates and LGBTQ+ groups, while prompting a strong rebuke from Republican lawmakers and conservative organizations concerned about the right to due process for students accused of misconduct and protecting gender-segregated spaces and programs. Still, civil right groups remain frustrated that Cardona has not established a separate rule for overseeing school sports participation for transgender students.

During the rulemaking process, the hotly contested proposed policy attracted more than 240,000 comments and has faced several delays in its release since it was first unveiled in 2022. Cardona’s final rule will be officially released later this month, Biden administration officials said , and will come into effect in August. , before the 2024-2025 school year.

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It is also almost certain that it will face legal problems.

“The rule is unlawful. We and a coalition of interested parties will challenge it in court, and it will ultimately be dismissed,” said Jennifer Braceras, founder of the Independent Women’s Law Center and former commissioner of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

The government’s announcement pleases the president Joe BidenThe 2020 campaign promises to unravel much of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ Title IX rule, a defining policy during her time in office. The Biden administration’s administration also marks the second major regulatory overhaul of the federal government’s interpretation of the law in two presidential administrations.

Responding to sexual misconduct

DeVos’ rule took effect in August 2020 and was in place for most of Biden’s presidency. It narrowed the definition of sexual harassment and ordered schools to hold live hearings with cross-examination for sexual misconduct investigations. She has said her rule is intended to protect fairness in investigations for those accused of misconduct and force schools to take immediate action.

Advocacy groups representing students who have experienced sexual misconduct have urged the Biden administration to quickly reverse DeVos’ rule.

Under its administration, the Trump administration has “unraveled critical protections for student survivors,” said Shiwali Patel, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center.

“For many students, a watered-down Title IX harassment rule is all they have known throughout their college and high school experiences,” Patel said.

Cardona’s final rule redefines sex-based harassment as “unwelcome sex-based conduct that creates a hostile environment by limiting or denying an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from a school’s educational program or activity.” It also requires schools to “take immediate and effective action” to end any discrimination on the basis of sex, and “treat complainants and respondents fairly.”

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The DeVos Rule prohibits unwanted sexual misconduct only if it is “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies an individual equal access to the recipient’s educational program or activity.”

Organizations representing the rights of students accused of sexual misconduct have urged the Biden administration to maintain the safeguards included in the DeVos rule to require every student receive a fair investigation.

Biden administration said it ‘maintains’ its rule[s] a number of important provisions from the current regulations.” The process is less prescriptive than what was issued under DeVos, but it emphasizes that a school may not discipline a student while under investigation or presume that he has committed misconduct until a decision is made at the end of a school’s complaints procedures.

“It is now up to school administrators to act quickly to implement and enforce the updated guidelines,” said Emma Grasso Levine, senior manager of Title IX policies and programs at the nonprofit Know Your IX. “Students who have survived sexual violence, LGBTQ+ students, and pregnant and parenting students cannot afford to continue suffering under policies that threaten their right to education.”

Protecting students against discrimination

Biden’s final rule would for the first time codify protections based on gender identity, protecting transgender and non-binary students from discrimination. It also clarifies that schools must protect student parents, pregnant students and employees from discrimination. This means schools must have “reasonable accommodations” for students and employees, including space and time for breastfeeding.

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But much of the focus among advocacy groups on both sides of the line is on transgender students.

“While we celebrate the significance of this moment, we still urge the release of a final rule that explicitly clarifies what Title IX has always stood for and guarantees – that transgender, non-binary, and intersex athletes have the right to play sports with their peers. said Patel.

On Capitol Hill, Republican lawmakers denounced the rule’s protections of gender identity. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the top Republican on the Senate education panel, called it “an attempt by the Biden administration to pursue an ideological agenda on gender identity and lock federal bureaucrats into the parent-child relationship.” inject.”

And House Education Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) accused the Department of Education of endangering women’s advancement.

“This final line dumps kerosene on the already raging fire of the Democrats’ contemptuous culture war, which aims to radically redefine sex and gender,” she said. “Apparently, acceptance of biological reality and faithful implementation of the law are just pills too big for the Department to swallow – and it shows.”

The Department of Education said the final rule recognizes that preventing someone from participating in school — including sex-segregated activities — “that are consistent with their gender identity causes more than de minimis harm to that person.” But it said this reasoning is limited and does not apply to single-sex residential facilities and single-sex athletic teams.

Department officials did not provide an updated timeline for the sports regulations, reiterating that the proposed rule for that was introduced nine months after the rule, which is currently being finalized.

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