In June 2022, President Biden’s introduction of new Title IX regulations emphasized the wide expansion of Title IX definitions and protections.
Specifically, regulations stated that Title IX would include legislation on sex discrimination beyond that of sexual harassment, overall strengthening the protections of victims, which were arguably dismantled by Trump’s 2020 regulations.
But what does “all forms of sex discrimination” actually mean, and how will this expansion impact education?
Current Title IX Definitions
Trump’s 2020 regulations historically narrowed the definition of Title IX and sexual harassment. Sexual harassment, which included quid pro quo and hostile environment, no longer involved allegations occurring outside of the United States, had to be considered “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive,” and be within a college’s “program.”
Because of this definition change, many schools created two-pronged policies to include Title IX as well as non-Title IX allegations, so they could still investigate cases from a study away program, off-campus housing, or occurrences not considered severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive.
Sex discrimination in terms of sexual orientation and transgender participation in athletics was not found in Title IX policy and law.
Other Forms of Sex Discrimination
Biden’s release of his new Title IX regulations identified a clear, overarching goal: to again widen Title IX definitions and return to a greater emphasis on victims’ rights and protections.
In particular, the regulations specified that Title IX would include protections for other forms of sex discrimination including “sexual harassment; harassment based on sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity.”
Also, in April of this year, the Biden administration announced another proposed change to Title IX through new proposed regulations on athletics, making it illegal for schools to ban all transgender students from participating in athletic teams aligning with their gender identity instead of their assigned sex at birth.
Implications for Students and Educators
The new Title IX regulations, if finalized as-is, would create stronger protections for students of all identities, especially LGBTQ+. Students, staff, faculty, and community members in education would experience unprecedented protections formalized in law.
Increased protections for victims and survivors of sex discrimination could also mean increased reporting, overall case management, and a potentially higher need for Title IX support for schools and colleges. Because of the explicit inclusion of prohibitions on peer retaliation, Title IX Coordinators and education administrators may now find themselves processing complaints that may have fallen within their bystander intervention teams if formerly separate.