Last week, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released joint guidance to help provide educators with the information they need to ensure that all students, including transgender students, can attend school in an environment free from discrimination based on sex.
Recently, questions have arisen from school districts, colleges and universities, and others about transgender students and how to best ensure these students, and non-transgender students, can all enjoy a safe and discrimination-free environment.
Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, schools receiving federal money may not discriminate based on a student’s sex, including a student’s transgender status. The guidance makes clear that both federal agencies treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX.
“No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “This guidance further clarifies what we’ve said repeatedly – that gender identity is protected under Title IX. Educators want to do the right thing for students, and many have reached out to us for guidance on how to follow the law. We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence.”
The guidance explains that when students or their parents, as appropriate, notify a school that a student is transgender, the school must treat the student consistent with the student’s gender identity. A school may not require transgender students to have a medical diagnosis, undergo any medical treatment, or produce a birth certificate or other identification document before treating them consistent with their gender identity.
The guidance also explains schools’ obligations to:
- Respond promptly and effectively to sex-based harassment of all students, including harassment based on a student’s actual or perceived gender identity, transgender status, or gender transition;
- Treat students consistent with their gender identity even if their school records or identification documents indicate a different sex;
- Allow students to participate in sex-segregated activities and access sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity; and
- Protect students’ privacy related to their transgender status under Title IX and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
TASH thanks the DOE and the DOJ for their efforts in releasing this joint guidance to help provide educators with the information they need to ensure that all students can attend school in an environment free from discrimination based on sex.