In another landmark advancement of LGBT rights from the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights issued guidance today making clear for the first time that Title IX -- the federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in federally-funded schools -- also prohibits discrimination against transgender students.
The document states: "Title IX's sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity and OCR accepts such complaints for investigation."
The National Center for Transgender Equality reacts via press release:
"This announcement is a breakthrough for transgender students, who too often face hostility at school and refusal by school officials to accept them for who they truly are," said NCTE Policy Director Harper Jean Tobin. "It is now clearer than ever that schools nationwide are responsible for ensuring that transgender students are respected and safe, and students can seek protection from the Department of Education and the courts if schools fail to do so."
The Human Rights Campaign, which also lauded today's guidance, provides further context about why protecting trans students is so vitally important:
Seventy-eight percent of transgender children in grades K-12 reported being harassed in school, 35 percent physically assaulted, and 12 percent sexually assaulted, according to a 2011 report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. According to "Growing Up LGBT in America," HRC Foundation's groundbreaking survey of more than 10,000 LGBT youth (www.hrc.org/youth), more than four in 10 (42 percent) gender-expansive youth report "frequently" or "often" being called names involving anti-gay slurs and 40 percent report being excluded by peers "frequently" or "often;" and more than half of gender-expansive youth reported "never participating" in the majority of activities listed in the survey (e.g., sports, church/religious youth groups and service organizations) out of fear of discrimination.
This is a fabulous step forward for trans students and will help ensure that kids across the country are better protected and included at school.