Updated Title IX guidance released last week by the U.S. Department of Education clarifies that the civil rights law’s protection extends to all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The American Civil Liberties Union praised the inclusion of transgender students in the new guidance, which came in the form of a question-and-answer update to a 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter. But the organization continues to call on the federal agency to release additional guidance that clarifies how schools should address unique issues related to transgender youths.
The Education Department’s office for civil rights previously released a 2010 letter that addressed schools’ obligations to protect transgender and gay students from bullying under Title IX. The updated guidance relates to sexual assault and harassment.
“Title IX protects all students at recipient institutions from sex discrimination, including sexual violence. Any student can experience sexual violence: from elementary to professional school students; male and female students; straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students; part-time and full-time students; students with and without disabilities; and students of different races and national origins,” it says.
The guidance goes on to say that schools are obligated to “respond appropriately” to complaints of sexual violence or harassment, “regardless of the sex or sexes of the parties involved.”
While the updated guidance has received some praise, it doesn’t go as far as many advocacy groups would like in explicitly outlining how schools must accommodate the gender identities of students. In January, a new California law went into effect that allows transgender students to use single-sex facilities and join sex-segregated teams that match their gender identities. Supporters of that law have pushed for federal guidance that addresses such issues.
A version of this article appeared in the May 07, 2014 edition of Education Week as Title IX Protects Transgender Youths, Federal Guidance Says