After aggressive rollbacks from the Trump administration, the United States Department of Education (DOE) said Thursday it plans to bolster victim protections under Title IX regulations — and restore previous guidelines. Here’s what that means for kids — and what the new protections will do.
What Is Title IX?
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, commonly referred to as Title IX, prohibits institutions that receive federal funding from barring students from access to educational and athletic programs based on sex.
The Title IX proposal was announced on the 50th anniversary of the original amendment signing, something President Joe Biden noted in a statement he gave regarding the department’s proposal. “As we look to the next fifty years, I am committed to protecting this progress and working to achieve full equality, inclusion, and dignity for women and girls, LGBTQI+ Americans, all students, and all Americans,” Biden said in a statement.
What Did The Trump Admin Do To Title IX?
In 2020, under former president Donald Trump, the DOE released new Title IX guidance that muddied the waters of campus sexual assault and discrimination. Per U.S. News, campus sexual assault advocates found that the 2020 guidance made it harder for sexual assault survivors to come forward and even allowed for “those accused of sexual assault to have the right to cross-examine those who accuse them.”
The changes under the Trump administration were seen as a step backward for women by Title IX advocates. Fatima Goss Graves, president and C.E.O. of the National Women’s Law Center, wrote in a 2020 letter: “We refuse to go back to the days when rape and harassment in schools were ignored and swept under the rug.”
What Would The Changes Do?
The proposed changes would, for the first time, protect LGBTQ+ students from discrimination, according to the draft proposal. In the past few years, schools have increasingly become battlegrounds for LGBTQ+ rights and supposed “culture wars.” This has culminated in increased attacks from anti-gay legislation, far-right TikTok propaganda machines, and even bomb threats, the proposed Title IX changes would provide increased safeguards and protections for a vulnerable population.
In the last year, almost half of surveyed LGBTQ+ youth considered suicide, and nearly 20% of transgender and nonbinary youth attempted suicide, according to the fourth annual National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, which surveyed nearly 34,000 LGBTQ+ people aged 13 to 24.
New Title IX proposals would "make clear that preventing someone from participating in school programs and activities consistent with their gender identity would cause harm in violation of Title IX, except in some limited areas set out in the statute or regulations," the department said.
There’s More To Come
A new, separate notice regarding the potential to amend Title IX regulations related to a student’s ability to participate on a particular male or female athletics team is expected to come down from the department as it continues to propose changes to the amendment. In recent years, states across the country have issued laws banning children from playing sports due to their sexual identity. These bans are part of a massive wave of anti-LGBTQ+ and trans legislation at the state level.
New Title IX amendments will also prevent discrimination based on stereotypes related to one’s sex, as well as pregnancy. Schools receiving federal funding would now be required to make reasonable modifications for pregnant students as well as pregnant employees. Given the recent US Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, increased protections for pregnant people will be necessary for a country without access to reproductive health care.
Generally, Title IX is seen through the lens of students, but the new amendment also provides provisions for parents, guardians, and a student's authorized legal representative to have increased ability to act on behalf of the student. Families of LBTQ+ children already face numerous challenges navigating legal battles and the proposed changes would allow for families to have more tools under their belts when settling discrimination complaints against their children. Parents or guardians of LGBTQ+ youth should be on the lookout for signs of bullying and know how to help as their children navigate the volatile social space.