Washington, DC - The National Center for Transgender Equality ( NCTE ) welcomes guidance issued today by the U.S. Department of Education which makes clear that federal Title IX law prohibits discrimination against transgender students. The guidance, from the Department's Office for Civil Rights ( OCR ), states: "Title IX's sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity and OCR accepts such complaints for investigation."
"This announcement is a breakthrough for transgender students, who too often face hostility at school and refusal by school officials to accept them for who they truly are," said NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin. "It is now clearer than ever that schools nationwide are responsible for ensuring that transgender students are respected and safe, and students can seek protection from the Department of Education and the courts if schools fail to do so."
Recent research indicates that 80% of transgender students feel unsafe at school because of who they are [GLSEN 2012]. While the guidance does not address specific forms of discrimination against transgender students, recent actions by the Departments of Justice and Education make clear that schools must provide equal access to all school facilities and programs consistent with a student's gender identity. A 2013 federal settlement with the Arcadia, California school district, on behalf of a transgender boy excluded from school restrooms and field trip accommodations, requires school officials to treat the student as male for all purposes. Earlier this month, the Department of Justice issued guidance stating the nondiscrimination based on gender identity requires domestic violence shelters and other grantees under the Violence Against Women ACT ( VAWA ) to provide equal access consistent with a person's gender identity.
This historic statement on gender identity is embedded in a larger guidance document on the responsibilities of schools to prevent and respond to sexual violence against any studentpart of a package of guidance and resources announced by the Obama Administration today to address this widespread problem. Also being launched is a new website, NotAlone.gov, collecting resources for students and schools and reporting settlements with schools related to sexual violence on campus. NCTE applauds the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and the federal agencies involved in this effort.
"Sexual violence in schools is shockingly common in the U.S. and needs to stop," said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling. "That the Federal Government is addressing sexual violence is so important. And it is also important, and honestly a relief, that the Department of Education is clarifying Title IX in a way that will make schools safer for transgender students."
While the Department of Education took the opportunity of issuing the sexual violence guidance to also clarify that transgender students are protected under Title IX, this protection is not limited to the context of physical or sexual violence and extends to all forms of discrimination in education. NCTE has long pressed for this guidance along with other LGBT advocates, and now urges the Department of Education to issue further detailed guidance on the rights of transgender students.
To ensure compliance with Title IX, NCTE urges schools to use our Model School District Policy on Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Students, developed by NCTE and our partners at GLSEN, to update their own policies. Students or anyone aware of discrimination based on gender identity can file a complaint with the Department of Education at ocrcas.ed.gov/ .
To learn more or to speak with Mara Keisling or Harper Jean Tobin, please contact Vincent Paolo Villano /firstname.lastname@example.org / 202-631-9640.
From the ACLU:
WASHINGTON In a guidance document released today, the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Education has, for the first time, explicitly made clear that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity. Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs and activities.
"This guidance is crystal clear and leaves no room for uncertainty on the part of schools regarding their legal obligation to protect transgender students from discrimination," said Ian Thompson, ACLU legislative representative. "The Office for Civil Rights must now take the next step and issue comprehensive guidance on Title IX and transgender students."
The guidance released today builds on numerous court decisions and a landmark ruling from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission establishing that transgender people are protected under existing prohibitions on sex discrimination.
The guidance document can be viewed here: www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/qa-201404-title-ix.pdf .
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 29, 2014The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education today issued official guidance which makes clear that transgender students are protected from discrimination under Title IX. Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs and activities. Specifically, the guidance states that "Title IX's sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity and OCR accepts such complaints for investigation."
The statement is part of broader guidance on sexual violence and the responsibility that schools have to protect all students. The Department has brought enforcement actions against school districts in the past on behalf of transgender students, but had not previously made such a proactive public statement about their commitment. GLSEN and other advocates for LGBT youth had long sought such a statement regarding the protections available to transgender students under Title IX to ensure that schools had no doubt as to their responsibilities.
"Make no mistake: transgender students are protected by Title IX, and the U.S. Department of Education stands ready to help them," said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. "We thank the Department of Education, Secretary Arne Duncan and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon for making this commitment so clear."
Findings from GLSEN's 2011 National School Climate Survey indicate that 80% of transgender students experience a more hostile school climate and feel unsafe at school because of who they are. While the guidance does not explicitly address specific forms of discrimination against transgender students, and while the protection is provided in the context of physical or sexual violence, Title IX protections extend to all forms of discrimination in education.
"We must make sure that transgender students and their families know that help is available," Byard continued, "and that they report incidents to the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education."
Violations of Title IX protections should be reported to the Office of Civil Rights, and GLSEN has guidance on incident reporting available here. For schools and districts needing to update their policies to protect transgender students, GLSEN has a model policy available, developed in partnership with the National Center for Transgender Equality: Model School District Policy on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students.