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D.C. Bureau Education

Biden administration to roll back the Betsy DeVos Title IX rules

A student concentrating and taking notes while working in a classroom with her classmates. Getty Images photo.

The U.S. Department of Education on Friday announced a final rule that will update Title IX regulations governing how schools respond to sexual misconduct, undoing changes made under the Trump administration and former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

“For more than 50 years, Title IX has promised an equal opportunity to learn and thrive in our nation’s schools free from sex discrimination,” Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said on a call with reporters on Thursday night. “These final regulations build on the legacy of Title IX by clarifying that all our nation’s students can access schools that are safe, welcoming, and respect their rights.”

This new rule will roll back Title IX changes overseen by DeVos. Those regulations narrowly defined sexual harassment, and directed schools to conduct live hearings to allow those who were accused of sexual harassment or assault to cross-examine their accusers.

Many advocates argued that practice would discourage victims of sexual misconduct from coming forward. President Biden during his campaign in 2020 promised to nix the Trump administration’s Title IX regulations.

The final rule will protect students and employees from sex-based discrimination, such as sexual violence and other forms of sex-based harassment. It would also require schools to have in place measures to offer support to those who make complaints.

The rule also sets guidelines for schools, such as treating all forms of sexual discrimination complaints equitably and promptly.

The state of Maryland recently approved a $4.1 million settlement for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, negotiated with the U.S. Department of Justice, to pay students who were sexually and verbally abused by the former head coach of the school’s swimming and diving team.

The new rule codifies protections for transgender students from sex discrimination. It prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ students and employees based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.

“The final regulations clarify that a school must not separate or treat people differently based on sex in a manner that subjects them to more than de minimis harm, except in limited circumstances permitted by Title IX,” according to a government fact sheet.

“The final regulations further recognize that preventing someone from participating in school (including in sex-separate activities) consistent with their gender identity causes that person more than de minimis harm.”

The rule does not establish new criteria for transgender athletes, which is a separate rule the Department of Education is still finalizing, a senior administration official said. That rule would prevent blanket bans on transgender athletes competing in sports that align with their gender identity. So far, 24 states have passed laws that ban transgender athletes from competing in sports that align with their gender identity.

The new rule also protects students, employees and applicants from discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, recovery from pregnancy and other reproductive care.

It requires schools to “provide reasonable modifications for students based on pregnancy or related conditions, allow for reasonable break time for lactation for employees, and access to a clean, private lactation space for students and employees,” according to a fact sheet.

Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education Catherine Lhamon said on a call with reporters that the final regulations clarify the requirements that schools should follow to address all forms of sex discrimination.

“We look forward to working with schools, students, and families to prevent and eliminate sex discrimination,” Lhamon said.

Cardona said that the new rule will go into effect Aug. 1.

Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.


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Biden administration to roll back the Betsy DeVos Title IX rules