Lucy Sheldon ’27
After many delays, the White House has finally received the newly proposed regulations for Title IX made by the Education Department, updating the descriptions of which parties are protected. The change would undo many of the former Title IX rules codified under the Trump administration. The Department of Education’s submission is to be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget, though enacting any changes is contingent on the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. This development was made after a buildup of pressure came from democrats and civil rights groups like the Human Rights Campaign and the National Women’s Law Center on the Education Department and President Biden urging that these promised changes to Title IX be made.
The rules issued to Title IX are federally mandated, so while there are state laws that work in conjunction with Title IX, like those that enlist school employees as mandated reporters, any regulations made to Title IX will apply to all United States K-12 schools and colleges.
During Biden’s presidential campaign, he pledged to overhaul the regulations made to Title IX by the former US Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, to redefine how schools handled sexual misconduct. The Department of Education under Devos repealed the regulations made under the Obama administration. Secretary Devos’ regulations mandated that any evidence collected during a sexual harassment or assault investigation be shared with the accused party and their family, as well as allowing the accused to challenge evidence and cross-examine the accuser.
A public hearing held in June of 2021 by the Office for Civil Rights met virtually with over 280 students, educators, and others for the purposes of updating Title IX. Based on the comments made in real-time and in writing during this nationwide public hearing, the current regulations of Title IX do not sufficiently address sex-based discrimination in education. The Education Department, as a result, suggested that “the current regulations should be amended to provide greater clarity regarding the scope of sex discrimination, including recipients’ obligations not to discriminate based on sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity.” In addition to standardizing the purview of sex-based discrimination in schools across a variety of metrics, this proposal also empowers schools to provide “supportive measures” to any punishments legally prescribed.
Though this proposal addresses many of the public’s concerns over sexual misconduct and gender identity, the Department is still taking time to review and solidify the eligibility of transgender athletes’ rights to play for an athletic team or sport that is congruent with their gender identity. The Department’s proposal over eligibility for school sports is particularly crucial as there are currently 24 states with laws that ban transgender athletes from participating in school sports, according to the Movement Advancement Project.
It is anticipated that by March of this year, this separate proposal on transgender student-athletes will be divulged, especially because finalizing these rules could prove to be an asset to President Biden’s campaign for reelection.