One of the most important aspects to remember in educational policy is that it’s not just about the laws themselves, but also how those laws are interpreted. That has been shown to be the case yet again with the Department of Education’s most recent guidance on Title IX. President Joe Biden’s Education Department affirmed that the rights of LGBTQIA+ students are protected by Title IX.
Title IX is a federal Civil Rights law, and it was passed in 1972 and prohibits sex-based discrimination in any educational institution or program that receives federal money. It has most commonly been referenced when talking about sports due to its impact on women’s athletics, but technically the law extends well beyond the playing field. Most notably, Title IX deals with issues of sexual harassment, assault, and rape as well.
Even though the law deals with significantly more than sports, it is likely that this newest guidance will receive the most pushback due to sports. All over the country, transgendered students are arguing their case to compete against the gender they identify as in places where they are not currently allowed to do so. In places where they are allowed to do so, cisgender athletes and their parents are arguing against it.
After male to female trans athletes took home the girls state titles in Connecticut track and field events, parents rallied and even filed lawsuits in attempts to bar trans athletes from competing in women’s events. This latest guidance will no doubt be tested by similar lawsuits. However, areas like bathrooms are in the purview of this guidance too.
Some states already have their own protections for transgender students, but many don’t. It is in those states, where this guidance will be pushed back on the hardest.
This newest guidance is a 180 from the previous administration. Under the Trump administration, the department of education LGBTQIA+ students were not protected by Title IX. At the time that was a reversal from the Obama administration which issued similar guidance as Biden’s recent guidance.