The US Department of Education issued a notice of interpretation Wednesday to extend Title IX’s prohibition on sex-based discrimination to gender identity and sexual orientation, reversing the opposite stand taken by the Education Department under the Trump administration.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prevents sex-based discrimination in any education program offered by a beneficiary of federal financial aid from the department. Title IX’s new interpretation is based on the US Supreme Court’s verdict in Bostock v Clayton County in which the court held that discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation inherently involves discrimination based on sex. Although the Bostock decision interpreted Title VII only, the notice said that the court’s reasoning is also applicable to Title IX.
US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said:
The Supreme Court has upheld the right for 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 protection. I’m proud to have directed the Office for Civil Rights to enforce Title IX to protect all students from all forms of sex discrimination.
Further, the notice stated that the new interpretation overrides any previous contradictory statements made by the department about the scope of Title IX’s jurisdiction over discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. However, it affirmed the exemption of educational institutes controlled by religious organizations from the application of Title IX.
The interpretation comes after President Joe Biden signed an executive order in March guaranteeing an educational environment devoid of discrimination based on sex, including gender identity and sexual orientation.
Recently, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights also reported that LGBTQ+ students experience additional challenges in school, including disproportionate harassment, bullying and victimization, which were worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.