This past month the United States Department of Education finally confirmed that it has not been and will not be responding to complaints filed by transgender students who are denied access to restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. According to a spokesperson for the Education Department, Liz Hill, the position is based on their interpretation of the 1972 federal civil rights law called Title IX and would allow for investigation into certain types of complaints filed by transgender students, but not restroom complaints. Hill contends that, “Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity…In the case of bathrooms, however, long-standing regulations provide that separating facilities on the basis of sex is not a form of discrimination prohibited by Title IX.”
Two federal circuit court decisions, from the 6th and 7th circuits, have actually concluded the opposite of the Department of Education’s recent position, stating that transgender students are covered under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1974. The federal court decisions are considered enforceable as policy as they are the official interpretations of the law put into practice. The U.S. Department of Policy is going against the law by interpreting it themselves in order to violate it.
Most advocates are not surprised to finally know the Education Department’s official position, but in this political climate, when bias incidents against LGBTQIA people are increasing at an unprecedented rate, and with the largest numbers of incidents being witnessed in our schools, students, parents, schools and communities need to know that LGBTQIA kids, and transgender and gender nonconforming kids in particular, have defenders and places to go when they are harmed.
LAHR understand how traumatic it is for the LGBTQIA community to not be able to trust that our government departments will advocate for us, and we and our allied advocacy organizations are intent on ensuring our LGBTQIA kids are cared for regardless.
If you suspect discrimination or harassment has happened at a local school please refer to the “Bias Incident Info” links on www.moash.org/educators/.
For more information, you can also go here.