The Biden Administration has recently announced a delay in the release of updated Title IX regulations, due to the overwhelming volume of public comments received. This comes as the Department of Education reviews hundreds of thousands of public opinions on the proposed changes to the regulations that ensure protection against sex discrimination for all students in federally funded education programs and activities. In this comprehensive article, we will discuss the key aspects of these proposed Title IX changes and their potential impact on various groups, including the LGBTQ community.
What is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal civil rights law that was passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. The law prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. This includes discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Title IX aims to ensure equal opportunities for all students, regardless of their sex, in all aspects of education, from academics to athletics.
Background of Title IX Changes
The current Title IX regulations were instituted in August 2020, under the Trump administration. However, the Biden administration has proposed several changes to these regulations, aimed at further strengthening protections against sex discrimination and ensuring a more inclusive environment for all students.
Key Proposed Changes
The Department of Education released a fact sheet detailing the proposed changes to Title IX regulations. Some of these key changes include:
- Protecting the rights of parents and guardians in supporting their children in elementary and secondary schools
- Protecting students and employees who are pregnant or have pregnancy-related conditions
- Requiring schools to take prompt and effective action to end sex discrimination in their programs and activities, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects
- Requiring schools to respond promptly to all complaints of sex discrimination with a fair and reliable process involving trained, unbiased decision-makers
- Protecting LGBTQ students from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics
- Requiring schools to provide supportive measures to students and employees affected by conduct that may constitute sex discrimination
- Clarifying and confirming protection from retaliation for those who exercise their Title IX rights
- Improving the adaptability of the regulations’ grievance procedure requirements for all recipients
- Ensuring that schools share their nondiscrimination policies with all students, employees, and other participants in their education programs or activities
Impact of the Proposed Title IX Changes
The proposed changes to Title IX regulations have the potential to significantly impact various groups, including LGBTQ students, pregnant students, and those involved in athletics. Let’s dive deeper into how these changes may affect these groups.
Impact on LGBTQ Students
The updated Title IX regulations would protect LGBTQ students from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics. This is a significant shift from the previous regulations, which did not explicitly include these protections. By including these protections, the Biden administration aims to create a more inclusive environment for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The proposed changes would also protect students from retaliation if they exercise their Title IX rights. This would mean that students, employees, and other individuals who report sex discrimination or participate in related investigations would be protected from adverse actions by their schools.
Impact on Pregnant Students and Employees
The proposed changes to Title IX regulations would protect students and employees who are pregnant or have pregnancy-related conditions. This includes ensuring that schools provide reasonable accommodations to these individuals, as well as ensuring that they are not discriminated against based on their pregnancy status.
Impact on Athletics
The Department of Education has also proposed changes to Title IX regulations specific to athletics, particularly in relation to transgender student-athletes. Under the new rule, schools would not be allowed to categorically ban transgender students from participating in sports teams that align with their gender identity.
Instead, schools would have the flexibility to adopt their own policies based on factors such as grade, sport, and level of competition. This approach aims to provide opportunities to transgender students while recognizing the need to ensure competitive fairness in school sports.
It is expected that transgender elementary school students will generally be allowed to participate on sports teams consistent with their gender identity. However, older students, particularly those in high school or college, may be subjected to sex-related criteria that may limit their participation in school sports.
Delays in the Release of Updated Title IX Regulations
The final version of the Proposed Rule, referred to as the Final Rule, was initially scheduled to be released in May 2023. However, due to the overwhelming number of public comments received (over 240,000), the Department of Education has decided to delay the release of the Final Rule until October 2023.
The department has acknowledged that carefully considering and reviewing these comments is essential to ensure the final rule’s durability. Until the Final Rule becomes law, the current Title IX regulations from August 2020 will remain in effect.
Public Response to the Proposed Title IX Changes
The public response to the proposed Title IX changes has been extensive, as evidenced by the record number of public comments received during the comment period. This demonstrates the significant interest and concern that individuals and organizations have regarding the potential impact of these changes on students, educators, and educational institutions.
While many have expressed support for the proposed changes, particularly in relation to LGBTQ students and pregnant students, others have raised concerns about the potential impact on competitive fairness in athletics and the rights of religiously-affiliated schools.