The rights of transgender and gay students are protected at school by Title IX, President Joe Biden’s administration said on Wednesday, overturning Trump-era directives that such students were not protected by any federal law.
The Education Department’s announcement comes not only during Pride Month, but also during a nationwide debate on whether trans athletes should be allowed to compete in sports that match their identity as kind. Such debates have sparked a wave of anti-trans legislation from state legislatures led by the GOP.
“Today, the Department is making it clear that all students, including LGBTQ + students, deserve the opportunity to learn and thrive in schools free from discrimination,” the Education Secretary said , Miguel Cardona, in a press release.
“The Supreme Court upheld the right of 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. ”
The interpretation of the law overrides guidelines issued under former President Donald Trump, whose administration repealed guidelines that Title IX applied to discrimination based on gender identity.
Wednesday’s news comes a year after the Supreme Court ruled that gay and transgender workers are protected by the Civil Rights Act, legislation that prohibits discrimination in the workplace. The Department of Education’s interpretation suggests that gay and transgender students will enjoy the same protections in schools. The Trump administration had previously threatened to halt federal funding for schools that allowed transgender students to participate in school sports.
What is not clear, however, is what this new interpretation means for these anti-trans bills – and if and how the Education Department might enforce its decision.
The Biden administration signaled early in its term that it would review Trump-era changes to Title IX, the 1972 law banning sex discrimination in schools. The president signed an executive decree in the spring that created the White House Gender Policy Council to advance gender equality, tackle systemic biases and also focus on transgender rights.