Dear President Biden, Mr. Cardona, Ms. Young, Ms. Lhamon, and Mr. Revesz:
The undersigned 127 gender justice, survivor advocacy, and civil rights organizations write to urge immediate action to finalize the Department of Education’s (the Department’s) Title IX rule.
Over the last three years, students have been greatly disappointed and concerned by the repeated delays regarding the Title IX rule, as have our organizations, which advocate for the rights of students and survivors of sexual violence:
- We were hopeful when President Biden promised during the 2020 campaign to “immediately” put an end to the Trump administration’s harmful, pro-abuser 2020 Title IX rule.
- Unfortunately, many months passed without release of a proposed rule, and in June 2021, the Department identified May 2022 as its target for release. Over 55,000 individuals and over 100 advocacy organizations and education associations asked for a proposed rule by October 2021. Many of us advocates gathered alongside student survivors on the steps of the Department to stress the urgency of our request. But the Department maintained May 2022 as its target for proposing a new rule.
- The Department failed to meet its own May 2022 deadline, prompting more than 200 survivor advocacy and civil rights organizations to urge for a proposed rule to be released by June 23, 2022—the 50th anniversary of Title IX. A proposed rule was released then, and officially published in July 2022—a full one and a half years into the administration. Despite escalating attacks on the rights of transgender, nonbinary, and intersex student athletes, the proposed rule entirely deferred the topic of Title IX protections for these students to a later, undetermined date.
- Soon after release of the July 2022 proposed rule, 50 women’s rights and gender justice organizations asked the Department to proceed with a proposed Title IX athletics rule expeditiously. The Department did not propose an athletics rule until April 2023—more than two years into the administration.
- In January 2023, the Department announced it would release a final, consolidated Title IX rule in May 2023. In April 2023, as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, more than 100 gender justice and survivor advocacy organizations and more than 8,000 individuals urged the administration to keep to its promised timeline. Instead, the Department answered advocates’ and students’ requests by indicating the release of the final rule would be delayed until October 2023. In response, 75 advocacy organizations reiterated: any further delay would continue to inflict a terrible cost upon student survivors, LGBTQI+ students, and pregnant and parenting students.
- October 2023 is here, and the Department has failed to transmit the final Title IX rule to the Office of Management and Budget for its required review, which can take up to 90 days. Students are suffering their fourth year under the Trump Title IX rule. We urge the administration to prioritize students’ needs and their right to a safe, welcoming, and fair education by acting with urgency to finalize the Title IX rule.
As you know, students have an urgent, dire need for restored and strengthened Title IX protections. When this administration left the Trump Title IX rule in place for one year, in 2021, it was an unfortunate necessity of the regulatory process. When the rule remained in place and in force for two, and then three, years, it became a worrying and dangerous trend.
Students cannot be condemned to spend four years of their high school or college career—indeed, nearly all four years of this presidential term—under the abhorrent Trump Title IX rule. Moreover, the prospect of a new rule not being finalized until 2024 heightens the risk these crucial protections will never be implemented at all.
Attacks on survivors, LGBTQI+ people, and pregnant people grow ever more vicious. Students across the United States are—more than ever—looking to this administration to protect and strengthen their Title IX rights: to ensure that being a victim of sex-based harassment does not entirely derail their education; to ensure that dozens of hostile, anti-LGBTQI+ education laws enacted on the state level (with hundreds more proposed each year) do not crush the right of queer and transgender youth to learn safely; and to ensure that repressive state laws and policies, particularly in the wake of the Supreme Court’s destructive Dobbs decision, do not force pregnant and parenting students out of schools altogether.
We urge you to ensure a different present and future for our nation’s young people.
Time is running out. Young people need to see that this administration will show up for their rights and their well-being. The student community has been unified and energized as a political force by its need for strong civil rights protections. Today, there is a crucial need and opportunity for this administration to reaffirm to these young voters that it is unwaveringly committed to upholding students’ civil rights, finalizing robust protections in Title IX regulations, and renewing young people’s faith in their government.
We remain grateful for the tremendous work this administration has done to undo the Trump administration’s attacks on civil rights. We renew our urgent request to finalize and publish the Title IX rule immediately.