President Joe Biden Proposes to Strengthen Title IX Protections for Transgender Students – CBS Tampa

WASHINGTON DC. (CW44 News At 10 | CNN) — The Biden administration proposed Thursday to strengthen protections for transgender students under Title IX and revise controversial Trump-era guidance on how schools should handle sexual assault cases.

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

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

But, he said: “There is more work to do. As we look to the next fifty years, I am committed to protecting that progress and working 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 established by the Trump administration that offers more protections for those accused of sexual harassment and assault on college campuses and narrows the definition of sexual misconduct on campuses.

The Trump-era changes received significant backlash from victim advocacy groups, who argued that 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 parties. Then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos argued that the guidelines issued under the Obama administration denied due process to those accused of harassment or assault and the new rules would give more rights to the accused.

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

“These proposed regulations will advance the Title IX objective of ensuring that no person experiences sex discrimination in education, that all students receive adequate support as needed to access equal educational opportunity, and that school procedures for investigating and resolving complaints of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and violence, are fair to all involved,” the department said.

Proposed changes undergo a public comment period before being finalized.

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

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

Several civil rights groups on Thursday praised 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, an attorney with Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ legal advocacy group, said in a statement.

“With LGBTQI+ students, and especially transgender and non-binary students, under attack from political extremists, these new rules will provide a stronger and clearer measure of recourse and better ensure that victims of unlawful discrimination can avail themselves of the long-standing protections of the Title IX.”

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

“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 while on campus,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign. “These protections are particularly critical for female and LGBTQ+ students.”

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

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