Biden’s Title IX rules will protect trans students, sexual assault survivors

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On the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the Biden administration proposed sweeping changes to the landmark law that would bar schools, colleges and universities from discriminating against transgender students, a move that comes as the battle over transgender rights moves to the front lines of the culture war.

The proposal would extend the protections of Title IX, which prohibits schools that get federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex, to transgender students, compelling schools to accommodate and protect them. This includes permitting them to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity, using their correct pronouns and addressing bullying based on their gender identity.

It would also amend the rules that govern how schools, colleges and universities investigate and resolve claims of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Over concerns that people were being wrongfully punished, President Donald Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, revised the rules to make them more accommodating to the accused. Critics assailed the changes, saying they would discourage sexual assault survivors from coming forward to report assaults or harassment.

As a candidate for president, President Biden promised to put a “quick end” to the DeVos regulation if elected, saying it gave colleges “a green light to ignore sexual violence and strip survivors of their rights.”

But the administration sidestepped one of the most heated debates, saying the rules would not deal with whether transgender students should be permitted to participate in sports. That fight would be saved for another rulemaking process, the Education Department said.

Thursday’s announcement was a notice of proposed rulemaking, the starting point of a lengthy process to create new guidelines on how the Education Department interprets and enforces Title IX. They do not require a sign-off from Congress.

In a news release, the department said that “the Department’s proposed amendments will restore vital protections for students in our nation’s schools which were eroded by controversial regulations implemented during the previous Administration.”

“Those regulations weakened protections for survivors of sexual assault and diminished the promise of an education free from discrimination.”

The moves come as conservatives across the country fight to exclude transgender students from sports, to outlaw gender-affirming medical treatments and to purge libraries of books with LGBTQ characters. Eighteen states have banned transgender athletes from participating in school sports, with many of the restrictions passed in the last year.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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