12 Things New Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona Can Do to Promote Gender Equity

Dr. Miguel Cardona testifying at his nomination to serve as Secretary of Education.

Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Dr. Miguel Cardona to be the new Secretary of Education (goodbye forever, Betsy DeVos!). We’re heartened to see that Dr. Cardona grew up as a public school student and English learner and also served as a classroom teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, and state education commissionerAnd we were particularly glad to hear him say at his confirmation hearing, in response to GOP members’ transphobic remarks, that trans students’ rights are “nonnegotiable.  
As Dr. Cardona steps into his new role, we look forward to working with him on 12 critical priorities for gender equity in education: 

  1. Fight inequities exacerbated by COVID-19 by issuing guidance to schools on how to protect students’ civil rights during remote learningincluding how to address online and in-home sexual harassmentavoid racially discriminatory discipline, and provide accommodations for student parents who must balance schoolwork, caregiving, and a job. 
  2. Protect students from sexual harassment by stopping enforcement of Betsy DeVos’s harmful Title IX ruleissuing new Title IX rule that is directly informed by student survivors and addresses their needs, and issuing guidance on what schools must do in the interim to address and prevent sexual harassment while the new Title IX rule is being finalized. 
  3. Protect students of color from discriminatory discipline by restoring Obama-erguidance on racial discrimination in school discipline and updating it to address actions by school police; releasing new guidance addressing intersectional race- and gender-based discriminationand issuing new rules under Title IX and Title VI to prohibit discriminatory dress and grooming codes. 
  4. Protect pregnant, expectant, and parenting students by issuing guidance on accommodations for student parents during COVID-19 and issuing Title IX rules on the accommodations that schools must provide to students who are pregnant, recovering from childbirth, breastfeeding or lactatingor accessing reproductive healthcare. 
  5. Protect LGBTQ students by fully enforcing the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision and President Biden’s Bostock memowhich includes requiring schools to treat transgender and gender-nonconforming students consistent with their gender identityand by not allowing schools to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against LGBTQ students. 
  6. Promote gender equity in athletics by ensuring that schools provide equal athletic opportunities based on both gender and race, ensuring that trans women and girls can participate fully and equally on women’s and girls’ sports teams, and urging Congress to fund the U.S. Center for SafeSport to protect all athletes from abuse, including sexual abuse. 
  7. Protect affirmative action efforts by clarifying that gender-conscious programs in higher education do not violate Title IX, restoring Title VI guidance on race-conscious admissions in higher educationand dismissing frivolous complaints filed by white men seeking to destroy programs that benefit women and students of color. 
  8. Prohibit sex-segregated programs that rely on debunked sex stereotypes about girls and boys by rescinding harmful George W. Bush-era Title IX single-sex rules, investigating schools that offer sex-segregated classes and activities, and not allowing schools to use religion as an excuse to perpetuate regressive sex stereotypes. 
  9. Help Title IX coordinators do their job by restoring Obama-era guidance on the responsibilities of Title IX coordinatorsencouraging school districts and universities to have a Title IX coordinator at each school or campus, and providing Title IX coordinators with annual training, grants, and other resources. 
  10. Support women and girls in STEM and CTE by coordinating with other federal agencies (e.g., National Science Foundation) to address the sex discrimination that women and girls face in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); and restoring Obama-era guidance on targeted career and technical education (CTE) programs for women in underrepresented fields.  
  11. Support students at minority-serving institutions by ensuring that Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges or Universities, Alaskan Native- or Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions, and Asian American- and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions receive dedicated funding and resources to address the unique challenges faced by women of color and LGBTQ students of color. 
  12. Establish an Office for Gender Equity in the Department of Education to ensure full enforcement of Title IX, with a focus on protecting the rights of women and girls of color, expectant and parenting students, LGBTQ students, students with disabilities, and English learners. 

Want to learn more about these gender equity priorities? Read this letter from members of the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education to the Biden-Harris administration.