The U.S. Department of Education and the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, announced their respective affirmations of Title IX.
Since its passage 49 years ago, Title IX has protected students of the LGBTQ+ community from sex discrimination in educational opportunities. In a Department of Education press release, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said the country has made significant progress toward increasing educational opportunities for all.
Approximately a year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County that discriminating against sexual orientation or gender identity cannot be done without discriminating against one’s sex, according to the press release. This decision helped shape the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX.
“I’m proud to have directed the Office for Civil Rights to enforce Title IX to protect all students from all forms of sex discrimination,” Cardona said in the press release. “Today, the Department makes clear that all students — including LGBTQ+ students — deserve the opportunity to learn and thrive in schools that are free from discrimination.”
As reported by the Office of Civil Rights, or OCR, LGBTQ+ students face educational obstacles at school such as “persistent bullying, harassment, and victimization,” the press release stated. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased their vulnerability as LGBTQ+ students do not have access to the same school-based mental health services and support remotely.
The press release cited a survey that found that 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported “poor” mental health most of the time or always during the COVID-19 pandemic, in comparison to 61% of their cisgender peers.
In its own press release, the UCOP also expressed its support of Title IX and educational rights for all.
According to the press release, the UC system is committing to be inclusive and diverse and believes that the LGBTQ+ community has not been given adequate legal protection or respect.
Kellie Brennan, UC Berkeley executive director of civil rights and whistleblower compliance and Title IX officer, said the campus protects the LGBTQ+ community under the UC nondiscrimination policy and the Gender Recognition and Lived Name policy. These policies serve as a safety net for LGBTQ+ students, as campus is required to recognize students’ accurate gender identity and lived name.
Campus does not discriminate against students, faculty or staff over race, color, religion, sex, national origin, gender identity, disability, medical condition, age, sexual orientation, citizenship, marital status and more, Brennan added.
Brennan said she was “overjoyed” the OCR had affirmed that Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“This is a momentous step that seemed impossible just a short time ago,” Brennan said in an email. “This interpretation of Title IX aligns with Berkeley’s values of inclusivity and reiterates our commitment to being a community that celebrates diversity and treats everyone with dignity and respect.”