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Published on April 21, 2024
Biden Administration Overhauls Title IX with LGBTQ+ Protections, Transgender Athlete Policy on Pause Amid Broader ChangesSource: Unsplash/ Tristan B.

In a move both celebrated and critiqued, the Biden administration has announced new Title IX rules set to enhance protections for LGBTQ+ students and redefine safeguards for victims of sexual assault on campus. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona announced the regulation changes on Friday, furthering President Joe Biden's campaign vow to undo the previous administration's policies spearheaded by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. "No one should face bullying or discrimination just because of who they are, who they love," Cardona told reporters.

Despite the broad changes, the administration held back on implementing a policy concerning transgender athletes—delaying decisions on whether schools can ban transgender athletes from girl's sports. This omission in Biden’s policy overhaul seems a conscientious absence given the current election year. Republican officials have honed in on this issue, using it to rally their base against what they perceive as an encroachment on traditional gender categories in sports.

Under the newly finalized rules, Title IX will now explicitly protect students from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, a contentious point with Republicans. The previous rules, put in place by DeVos, carried more stringent definitions of sexual misconduct and provided new protections for students accused of such actions. As per the new regulations set to take effect this August, the Department of Education focused on expanding the definition of sexual harassment and lifting requirements for live hearings, which can now be conducted with participants in separate locations, if so chosen. Critics, like Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina, claim that "This final rule dumps kerosene on the already raging fire that is Democrats’ contemptuous culture war that aims to radically redefine sex and gender."

Those in favor of the updates are praising the wider definition of sexual harassment and the expected increased receptiveness to student complaints. Emma Grasso Levine, a senior manager at the advocacy group Know Your IX, lauded the regulation updates, stating, "After years of pressure from students and survivors of sexual violence, the Biden Administration's Title IX update will make schools safer and more accessible for young people, many of whom experienced irreparable harm while they fought for protection and support," according to a statement obtained by the publication.

Although the finalization of these rules marks a substantial policy shift, it continues the trend of each administration remolding Title IX to reflect its values. This seesaw of interpretations leaves schools grappling with the frequent adjustments, some advocating for a bipartisan middle ground to cease the constant policy pivots. Despite divergent views, the latest update cements Biden’s dedication to reshaping Title IX, a legacy that echoes the continuous effort to mold educational policies in alignment with the prevailing societal values.