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The new Title IX rules from Biden protect LGBTQ+ students, but they do not address transgender athletes, which was originally planned but put on hold

By COLLIN BINKLEY (AP Education Writer) The rights of LGBTQ+ students will be protected by federal law and victims of campus sexual assault will gain new safeguards under rules finalized Friday by the Biden administration. The new provisions are part

By COLLIN BINKLEY (AP Education Writer)

The federal government has finalized rules that protect LGBTQ+ students' rights and provide new safeguards for victims of campus sexual assault under Title IX.

President Joe Biden fulfilled a campaign promise by revising the Title IX regulation issued by the Education Department, which included dismantling rules set by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. created by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who added new protections for students accused of sexual misconduct.

However, Biden's policy does not mention transgender athletes, despite originally planning to include a new policy forbidding schools from outright banning them.

The provision regarding transgender athletes was put on hold, widely seen as a political maneuver during an election year, as Republicans have bans on transgender athletes in girls’ sports. Instead, Biden is officially undoing sexual assault rules put in place by former President Donald Trump, drawing praise from victims’ advocates and criticism from Republicans, who claim it erodes the rights of accused students. Under the new rule, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona emphasized the importance of creating safe and welcoming school environments that respect the rights of everyone, regardless of their identity or whom they love. rallied around bans on transgender athletes in girls’ sports.

Biden's regulation updates rules put in place by his predecessor and opponent in the current election year, former President Donald Trump, drawing both praise and criticism.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona emphasized the importance of ensuring safe and welcoming school environments that respect the rights of all individuals, stating that discrimination and bullying should not be tolerated.

Biden's rule clarifies schools’ obligations under Title IX, the 1972 sex discrimination law that applies to federally funded colleges and elementary and high schools, and specifically recognizes it protects LGBTQ+ students.

The new rules clarify that Title IX forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, allowing LGBTQ+ students who face discrimination to seek recourse from the federal government if their schools fail to respond appropriately. Title IX, the 1972 sex discrimination law originally passed to address women’s rights. It applies to colleges and elementary and high schools that receive federal money. The update is to take effect in August.

One of the key changes is the new recognition that Title IX protects LGBTQ+ students, which has led to conflict with Republicans. The 1972 law doesn’t directly address the issue, but the new rules clarify that Title IX also forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, giving LGBTQ+ students the right to a response from their school and the ability to seek recourse from the federal government if necessary. This has caused conflict with Republicans who argue that Congress never intended such protections under Title IX, and a federal judge previously blocked similar guidance from the Biden administration after 20 Republican-led states challenged the policy.

Many Republican-led states have adopted laws restricting the rights of transgender children, including banning gender-affirming medical care for minors, and placing restrictions on which bathrooms and locker rooms transgender students can use.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina, criticized the new regulation, claiming it threatens decades of advancement for women and girls. A federal judge previously blocked Biden administration guidance to the same effect after 20 Republican-led states challenged the policy..

Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina and chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said the new regulation threatens decades of advancement for women and girls.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina, criticized the new regulation, stating it adds to the Democrats' culture war aiming to redefine sex and gender.

In recent years, many Republican-controlled states have enacted laws that restrict the rights of transgender children, including banning gender-affirming medical care for minors and imposing limitations on their access to bathrooms and locker rooms. have adopted laws restricting the rights of transgender children, including banning gender-affirming medical care for minors. And at least 11 states restrict which bathrooms and locker rooms transgender students can use, banning them from using facilities that align with their gender identity.

However, the rule clarifies that treating transgender students differently from their classmates is discrimination, which puts the state bathroom restrictions at risk, according to Francicso M. Negron Jr., an attorney who specializes in education law.

The revision was proposed almost two years ago. proposed nearly two years ago but has been slowed down by a comment period that received 240,000 responses, a record for the Education Department.

Many of the changes are aimed at ensuring that schools and colleges address complaints of sexual misconduct. In general, the rules expand the type of misconduct that institutions are obligated to address, and they provide more protections to students filing accusations.

The most important among the changes is a broader definition of sexual harassment. Schools now have to address any unwelcome sex-based conduct that is so 'severe or pervasive' that it limits a student’s equal access to an education.

According to the DeVos rules, conduct had to be 'severe, pervasive and objectively offensive,' a higher standard that excluded some types of misconduct from Title IX's purview.

Colleges will no longer be mandated to hold live hearings for students to cross-examine each other through representatives — a key provision from the DeVos rules.

Live hearings are permitted under the Biden rules, but they are optional and come with new restrictions. For example, students must be able to participate in hearings remotely, and schools must disallow unclear or harassing questions.

Instead of live hearings, college officials can interview students separately, allowing each student to propose questions and receive a recording of the responses.

Those hearings sparked significant debate among victims’ advocates. They argued that it compelled sexual assault survivors to confront their attackers and discouraged people from reporting assaults. On the other hand, supporters claimed it offered accused students a fair process to question their accusers, contending that universities had become too prompt to rule against accused students.

Victims’ advocates welcomed the changes and urged colleges to implement them promptly.

“After years of pressure from students and survivors of sexual violence, the Biden Administration’s Title IX update will make schools safer and more accessible for young people, many of whom experienced irreparable harm while they fought for protection and support,” stated Emma Grasso Levine, a senior manager at the group Know Your IX.

Despite the focus on safeguards for victims, the new rules maintain certain protections for accused students.

Under the new policy, all students must have equal access to present evidence and witnesses, and they must have equal access to evidence. All students will be allowed to bring an advisor to campus hearings, and colleges must have an appeals process.

Generally, accused students will not be able to be disciplined until after they are found responsible for misconduct, although the regulation allows for 'emergency' removals if it is deemed a matter of campus safety.

The American Council on Education, which represents higher education institutions, praised the new guidelines. However, the group criticized the Aug. 1 compliance deadline, stating that the timeline 'disregards the difficulties inherent in making these changes on our nation’s campuses in such a short period of time,' ACE said in a statement.

The most recent change continues an ongoing political struggle as different presidential administrations repeatedly rewrite the guidelines surrounding sexual misconduct on college campuses.

DeVos criticized the new rule, stating on social media platform X that it equates to an attack on women and girls.” She said the new procedures for handling sexual assault accusations indicate a return to “times when sexual misconduct was dealt with in campus tribunals, rather than being resolved in a manner that truly sought justice,” she wrote.

The DeVos rules were themselves an overhaul of an Obama-era policy that was meant to compel colleges to take accusations of campus sexual assault more seriously. Now, after years of almost constant changes, some colleges have been advocating for a political middle ground to put an end to the instability. ___

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The Associated Press’ education coverage receives financial support from multiple private foundations. AP is solely responsible for all content. Find AP’s standards for working with philanthropies, a list of supporters and funded coverage areas at AP.org.

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