Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20202
Submitted via www.regulations.gov
Re: ED Docket No. ED-2022-OCR-XXXX, RIN 1870-AA16, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance.
Dear Assistant Secretary Lhamon,
We applaud the Department of Education for proposing changes to the Title IX rule that would (1) ensure schools more effectively respond to sex-based harassment, including sexual harassment, and (2) strengthen civil rights protections for LGBTQI+ students and pregnant and parenting students.
We support broad protections against sexual harassment in schools. Sexual harassment, including sexual assault, in schools is pervasive and harms too many students’ access to education. But unfortunately, survivors often do not get the support they need despite the emotional, academic, and health tolls that they face in the aftermath of violence. The Biden administration’s proposed changes would (1) ensure schools are taking sexual harassment more seriously by returning to decades-long standards that would require schools to respond to more incidents and providing support to survivors and (2) ensure equitable resolution of sexual harassment complaints by treating survivors fairly and undoing harmful changes made by Betsy DeVos in 2020 that impose uniquely burdensome grievance procedures that favor harassers.
We support broad protections for LGBTQI+ students. 2022 has seen a record number of bills targeting LGTBQI+ youth, and particularly transgender, non-binary, and intersex youth, despite them disproportionately experiencing persistent harassment, and victimization. LGBTQI+ students need assurance that the federal government supports them and will protect their civil rights. We support the Department making clear that discrimination “on the basis of sex” includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics. However, the Biden Administration must also swiftly publish a rule affirming that all accessing a full education includes accessing school sports, without singling out transgender and intersex girls and young women. This is urgent given the flood of new state laws kicking these young people off their school sports teams. Discriminating against and demonizing some girls because of who they are or how they look is never fair play – and it violates Title IX.
We support broad protections for pregnant and parenting students. Pregnant and parenting students face numerous barriers to completing their education, including harassment, discrimination, and a lack of institutional supports. The proposed changes clarify that schools must offer certain accommodations and reasonable modifications to pregnant and parenting students educational programs to support their learning.
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We thank you for your efforts to restore civil rights protections for students consistent with Title IX’s broad purpose to prevent sex-based discrimination in education and appreciate your consideration of our comment.
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