Biden administration extends vital Title IX protections to LGBT+ students amid wave of anti-trans attacks

Miguel Cardona speaks in a paisley tie and black suit

The US Department of Education said that LGBT+ students deserve to “thrive” as it extended Title IX protections to them on Wednesday (16 June).

In the latest repeal of Trump-era attacks on LGBT+ rights, the department issued a Notice of Interpretation stating that Title IX, a civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination, offers protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in federally-funded education settings.

The department said in a press release that its Office for Civil Rights took into account last year’s Supreme Court ruling that determined that protections in the Civil Rights Act can be extended to LGBT+ people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The Supreme Court has upheld the right for LGBT+ people to live and work without fear of harassment, exclusion and discrimination,” said the secretary of education Miguel Cardona in a social media statement.

“Our LGBT+ students have the same rights and deserve the same protections.”

“Equity in education means all students have access to schools that allow them to learn and thrive in all aspects of their educational experience,” said acting assistant secretary for civil rights Suzanne Goldberg.

“As part of our mission to protect all students’ civil rights, it is essential that Office for Civil Rights acts to eliminate discrimination that targets LGBT+ students.”

The Trump administration, among its many attacks on trans kids, made clear it took “the term ‘sex’ in Title IX to mean biological sex, male or female”.

Former education secretary Betsy DeVos issued a memo on the day of her resignation, 8 January, twisting the meaning of the Supreme Court ruling and arguing that the “plain ordinary public meaning” of civil rights laws would require “toilet, locker room, and shower facilities” to be provided “based on biological sex” and for “separate athletic teams to separate participants solely based on their biological sex… and not based on transgender status”.

The Biden administration’s memo confirms that this is not the case.

“It’s appalling that Title IX was ever interpreted to exclude trans students based on their gender identities,” Noreen Farrell, executive director of the Equal Rights Advocates, told PinkNews.

“That contradicts the very essence of this civil rights law. We trust that this fully inclusive interpretation of Title IX will guarantee every student a truly equitable experience in school and school sports, no matter their gender identity.”

She added: “By fighting gender discrimination in all its forms, we all win.”

The departments of health, housing and justice have all also scrapped various Trump-era policies in favour of those that assert trans rights.

However, dozens of state legislatures are ramming through bills that ban trans teens from taking part in school sports or severely limit what gender-affirming healthcare they have access to.

“Amidst the devastating legislative season that has left too many transgender young people questioning where they can be safe, [the Department of Education’s notice] is a meaningful step in the right direction,” said Erin Uritus, CEO of Out & Equal.

“It’s time to nurture our young people, not shun them.”