President Joe Biden proposes strengthening Title IX protections for transgender students

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WASHINGTON DC. (CW44 News At 10 | TNZT) – The Biden administration on Thursday proposed strengthening protections for transgender students under Title IX and revising controversial Trump-era guidelines on how schools should handle cases of sexual assault.

The new rules would clarify that Title IX anti-discrimination protections apply to sexual orientation and gender identity and that preventing someone from participating in a school program or activity consistent with their gender identity gender would be a violation of the law. Title IX, a landmark law that was signed into law 50 years ago on Thursday, prohibits gender discrimination in federally funded schools.

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President Joe Biden said in a statement Thursday that Title IX “transformed our nation” and that the United States has made “monumental progress in advancing equity and equality for all students.”

But, he said, “there is still work to be done. As we look to the next fifty years, I pledge to protect this progress and work to achieve full equality, inclusion and dignity for women and girls, LGBTQI+ Americans, all students and all Americans.

The Biden administration is also proposing to roll back a rule put in place by the Trump administration that provides more protections for those accused of sexual harassment and assault on college campuses and narrows the definition of sexual misconduct on campus. .

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The Trump-era changes received significant backlash from victims’ advocacy groups, who argued the regulations would discourage survivors from reporting sexual assault and harassment. Under Trump’s rules, colleges and universities are required to hold live hearings with cross-examinations from both sides. Then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos argued that guidelines issued under the Obama administration had denied due process to those accused of harassment or assault and that the new rules would give more rights to accused persons.

The Department of Education argued Thursday that the Trump administration has “weakened protections for sexual assault survivors and diminished the promise of discrimination-free education.”

“These regulatory proposals will advance the Title IX goal of ensuring that no one experiences gender discrimination in education, that all students receive the appropriate supports needed to access equal educational opportunity. , and that school procedures for investigating and resolving complaints of gender discrimination, including gender-harassment and sexual abuse, are fair to all involved,” the department said.

The proposed changes are subject to a public comment period before being finalized.

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The new proposals come as conservative state lawmakers across the country have pushed more than 100 anti-trans bills this year, with a particular focus on transgender students. If approved, the changes could give LGBTQ advocates more legal ammunition as they challenge some of the recently enacted state laws in court.

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Laws targeting trans students focus on several different areas of life. In Oklahoma, for example, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt last month signed into law a bill requiring students in public schools and public charter schools to use restrooms and locker rooms that match the gender listed on their birth certificates. . Earlier this month, Louisiana banned transgender women and girls from competing on gender-conforming sports teams in all public and private elementary and secondary schools and colleges. A number of these so-called sports bans have already been challenged in federal court, with judges temporarily suspending enforcement of their bans by West Virginia and Idaho for the past two years.

Several civil rights groups on Thursday welcomed the Biden administration’s proposals, saying the new rules will help protect LGBTQ youth from discrimination.

“This is a much-needed step in the right direction,” Paul D. Castillo, attorney at Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ legal advocacy group, said in a statement.

“With LGBTQI+ students, and particularly transgender and non-binary students, under attack by extremist politicians, these new rules will provide a stronger and clearer measure of redress and better ensure that victims of unlawful discrimination can avail themselves of the protections long-standing Title IX.

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The Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights groups, said that by “outlining protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, it will further protect a vulnerable population who is too often the prey”.

“The proposed rule change is at the heart of what Title IX is supposed to do – protect students from sexual assault, sexual harassment and discrimination on campus,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign. . “These protections are especially critical for LGBTQ+ students.”

Since taking office, Biden has taken several steps aimed at protecting LGBTQ rights and rolling back controversial moves by the Trump administration. Last year, the Biden administration reversed a Trump-era decision to end health care protections for transgender patients. The Department of Housing and Urban Development also announced last year that Fair Housing Act protections will cover LGBTQ Americans. This decision allowed the federal government to investigate complaints of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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