Title IX’s protections against discrimination extend to LGBTQ+ students’ sexual orientation and gender identity, the U.S. Department of Education said Wednesday in clarifying the landmark law.
This syncs Title IX with a 2020 Supreme Court employment ruling that found discriminating against a person based on sexual orientation or gender identity equates to discriminating against that person based on sex, the department’s Office for Civil Rights announced.
“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,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a 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.”
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LGBTQ+ college students have suffered higher levels of mental and physical health challenges during the COVID pandemic, according to a recent department study. “As part of our mission to protect all students’ civil rights, it is essential that OCR acts to eliminate discrimination that targets LGBTQ+ students,” Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Suzanne B. Goldberg said.
Wednesday’s announcement comes in the wake of a week-long public hearing in which the department gathered input into potential updates to Title IX. Participants were particularly focused on the Trump Administration’s revisions to policies around campus sexual assault investigations.
The announcement also follows two of President Joe Biden’s executive orders: “Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity” and “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation.”