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New Biden Rules Would Bar Discrimination Against Transgender Students

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Thursday proposed new rules governing how schools should respond to gender discrimination, overturning key parts of a Trump administration policy that narrowed the scope of investigations into sexual misconduct on campus and protecting transgender students’ rights. laid down in law.

The proposal would revise a comprehensive rule finalized under former education secretary Betsy DeVos, which first established how colleges and K-12 schools investigate sexual assault on campus. The proposal would also address discrimination under Title IX, the federal law signed 50 years ago today that prohibits the exclusion or denial of gender-based education benefits in federally funded programs.

The Trump administration’s rules, enacted in 2020, narrowed the definition of sexual harassment, expanded the rights to a fair trial of students charged with harassment and assault, relieved schools of some legal liability, and required schools to file courtroom-like procedures. called “live hearings”. which enabled cross-examination of the parties. Ms. DeVos’s rules didn’t necessarily define “sex-based harassment,” and the government had taken the position that Title IX didn’t extend to gender identity.

The Biden administration claimed that current rules “weakened protections for survivors of sexual violence and diminished the promise of a non-discriminatory education”.

“Our proposed changes would fully protect students from all forms of gender-based discrimination,” Education Secretary Miguel A. Cardona said in comments Thursday morning, adding that the new rule “would make it clear that those protections include discrimination based on sexual orientation.” and gender identity includes.”

The proposal is sure to cause a clash with state and federal lawmakers, drawing legal action from conservative groups that have begun protesting the department’s stance, issued last year, that transgender students were protected under federal law.

The proposed Biden regulation, which must pass a lengthy public comment period before taking effect, would revise a number of key provisions related to sexual assault investigations.

The Biden rules expand the definition of what constitutes sexual harassment and expand the types of episodes, such as incidents reported outside of their educational programs, that schools are required to investigate. The rules would also make live hearings optional, no longer a requirement, and allow schools to operate a process that establishes the credibility of the parties and witnesses, although no cross-examination is required.

But one of the key changes to the Biden rule is the inclusion of sex-based harassment, including “stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity,” under the proposed rules.

The department will issue a separate regulation on how Title IX applies to athletics, including how schools should determine a student’s eligibility to participate in a male or female athletics team.

The issue has become a flashpoint of the culture war in the past year as Republican-dominated lawmakers in at least 18 states have imposed restrictions on transgender people’s participation in public school sports, and at least a dozen states have passed laws with some restrictions.

“The department recognizes that the standards for students participating in male and female athletic teams are evolving in real time,” said Dr. cardona. “And so we’ve decided to create separate rules about how schools can determine eligibility while maintaining Title IX’s non-discrimination guarantee.”

“I strongly reject attempts to politicize these protections and create divisions in our schools,” he added.

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