LGBTQ+ advocates on Thursday praised the Biden administration for proposing new rules prohibiting educational institutions from discriminating against transgender students while restoring Title IX protections gutted during the tenure of former President Donald Trump.
"This rule is a great start to providing further clarification for schools that trans students are protected under Title IX."
On the 50th anniversary Title IX—the federal civil rights law protecting people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities—the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) proposed amendments it says "will restore crucial protections for students who are victims of sexual harassment, assault, and sex-based discrimination," and "strengthen protections for LGBTQI+ students who face discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity."
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said that "over the last 50 years, Title IX has paved the way for millions of girls and women to access equal opportunity in our nation's schools and has been instrumental in combating sexual assault and sexual violence in educational settings."
"As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of this landmark law, our proposed changes will allow us to continue that progress and ensure all our nation's students—no matter where they live, who they are, or whom they love—can learn, grow, and thrive in school," he added.
Responding to the announcement, the Transgender Law Center (TLC) tweeted: "This rule is a great start to providing further clarification for schools that trans students are protected under Title IX."
"It is simple and clear that Title IX protects all students," TLC added. "We expect that the next rule specific to school athletics will be equally affirming and inclusive of trans and nonbinary students, as would be expected under the law."
During the Trump administration, then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos revoked Obama-era guidance allowing transgender students to use restrooms that match their gender identity. She also authorized a rollback of Title IX protections for survivors of sexual abuse.
While the Biden administration has stated its commitment to protecting and advancing LGBTQ+ rights at the federal level, 18 Republican-led states have passed laws banning transgender students from participating on sports teams that match their gender identity.
According to DOE:
The proposed regulations will advance Title IX's goal of ensuring that no person experiences sex discrimination, sex-based harassment, or sexual violence in education. As the Supreme Court wrote in Bostock v. Clayton County... it is "impossible to discriminate against a person" on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity without "discriminating against that individual based on sex."
The regulations will require that all students receive appropriate supports in accessing all aspects of education. They will strengthen protections for LGBTQI+ students who face discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. And they will require that school procedures for complaints of sex discrimination, including sexual violence and other sex-based harassment, are fair to all involved.
Human Rights Campaign legal director Sarah Warbelow said in a statement that the proposed rule change "gets at the heart of what Title IX is supposed to do—protect students from sexual assault, sexual harassment, and discrimination while on campus."
"These protections are particularly critical for female and LGBTQ+ students," she continued. "A strong Title IX regulation, with clear expectations for how educational institutions are expected to behave, is an absolutely essential component of ensuring that our schools are places to learn and that all students can be safe in educational settings."
"By spelling out protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, it will further safeguard a vulnerable population that is all too often preyed upon," Warbelow added. "The proposed rule is a good first step, and we look forward to seeing an additional strong proposed rule on athletics and final rules that fully encompass needed protections relating to gender identity. It is especially important, given the attacks on transgender youth across the country."
This content originally appeared on Common Dreams - Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community and was authored by Brett Wilkins.