The Department of Education said Thursday it will reinstate Title IX regulations the Trump administration dumped in 2020.
The proposed changes consist of enhancements to protections against sexual discrimination in schools and altering the language to include sexual orientation and gender identity protections for LGBTQ+ students. Experts said the Trump administration’s changes to Title IX policy bolstered sexual violence assailants’ rights while gutting those of the survivor, and the newly proposed policies would reverse the previous administration’s Title IX rules.
“Those regulations weakened protections for survivors of sexual assault and diminished the promise of an education free from discrimination,” an education department release states.
The proposed updates, which must go through a public comment phase before final certification, would expand the definition of sex-based harassment in an effort to limit unwelcome sex-based conduct that could create a hostile environment.
“The proposed regulations reflect the Department’s commitment to give full effect to Title IX, ensuring that no person experiences sex discrimination in education, and that school procedures for addressing complaints of sex discrimination, including sexual violence and other forms of sex-based harassment, are clear, effective, and fair to all involved,” Catherine E. Lhamon, the assistant secretary for civil rights, said in a release.
Transgender students’ protections would also be expanded under the proposed changes. Schools would also have to share their nondiscrimination policies with community members and increase protections for students who are pregnant or have pregnancy-related conditions, officials said in a release.
Federal officials said they would release separate rulemaking guidance around Title IX application to school athletic teams.
The language would keep some Trump-era changes, such as mandating schools presume that accused students are innocent until the procedures to investigate and evaluate students end and allow informal resolutions around sexual misconduct if both the accuser and accused agree on the allegations.
The proposed changes would also allow for schools to investigate and punish accused students for assaults that occur off-campus and permit Title IX investigators to determine the outcomes of cases as long as they have no conflict of interest.
Proposed updates to the Title IX policy came during the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Title IX educational amendments of 1972, which protect students from discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs and activities.
“Over the last fifty years, our nation has made monumental progress in advancing equity and equality for all students, including by narrowing gender gaps in sports, expanding opportunities in science and technology fields, and protecting students from sex discrimination, including sex-based harassment and sexual violence,” President Joe Biden said in a White House statement.