The Department of Education announced on Wednesday that transgender
students are protected by a law that prohibits discrimination in federally funded schools
, a policy shift under President Joe Biden
after his predecessor worked to undermine LGBTQ rights
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the agency would broaden its interpretation of Title IX
, the law that prohibits sex
discrimination, to protect students based on sexual orientation and gender identity
as well. Title IX applies to any school or activity offered by a federally funded institution and is linked to a Supreme Court
ruling last year that extended protection to students based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“The Supreme Court has upheld the right of LGBTQ+ people
to live and work without fear of harassment, exclusion, and discrimination – and our LGBTQ+ students have the same rights and deserve the same protections,” Cardona said in a statement.
All means All. pic.twitter.com/3d1OnGQtev — Secretary Miguel Cardona (@SecCardona) June 16, 2021
The move is the latest in the Biden administration
's efforts to better protect trans Americans in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump
's efforts to marginalize the community. Biden has overturned Trump-era rules that limited transgender people's ability to serve in the military
, and his administration withdrew support for a lawsuit
that sought to bar trans kids from participating in high school sports
Despite Biden's efforts, Republicans
have heavily targeted trans children
as part of their legislative agenda for 2021, introducing dozens of bills across the country that primarily focus on two issues: limiting access to health care
for young transgender Americans and barring them from participating in school sports teams.
At least 19 states
have already passed such legislation, including Arkansas
, and Tennessee
, and Republican-led legislatures are still pushing for many more, despite widespread condemnation from human rights
organizations and medical associations.
Social justice organizations praised the Education Department
's decision on Wednesday.
“When children and families feel safe participating in school events, programs, sports, and activities, they thrive,” said Brian Bond, executive director of PFLAG National, in a statement. “PFLAG families everywhere can now rest easier knowing that these critical protections are in place for their children once again.”
Some have called for additional federal protection for LGBTQ Americans, including full passage of the Equality Act
, which was passed by the House
in February and would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but it faces a difficult battle in the Senate.
“We are encouraged to hear that this cruel neglect of our nation’s LGBTQ students has come to an end,” the Center for American Progress said in a statement. “However, LGBTQ students still need the U.S. Senate
to pass the Equality Act and ensure their protections are not simply ignored by a future administration.”