Transgender Protections in Schools
Passed in 1972, Title IX was created to halt the funding of discriminatory practices within educational institutions.
The law mandates that any education program receiving federal funding provide equal opportunities for both sexes. Title IX is known for its elastic nature, having been applied to various facets of sex discrimination, from athletics to sexual harassment and violence. It has not only provided a legal avenue for individuals to protect themselves from biased practices but has impacted American culture irrevocably.
Since the 1970s, Title IX’s standing has evolved in the courts to protect the rights of LGBTQ individuals. High profile cases have found that discrimination against a person’s gender expression constitutes a form of sex stereotyping. Gender-based harassment has always been prohibited under Title IX, therefore “failing” to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity can be considered a form of sex discrimination.
Last summer’s “Dear Colleague Letter” delineating the treatment of transgendered students in US schools prompted fourteen states to file suit against the Obama administration.
The 14 states that filed a lawsuit against the federal government over Title IX expansions.
The band of states challenged the directive as a violation of state sovereignty as well as an illegal expansion of Title IX to include gender identity.
On February 22, 2017, the Trump administration rescinded a federal directive that had reassured schools that the protections of Title IX include gender identity. Guidance on transgender issues in schools has returned to the grip of the states, where concern and commitment vary dramatically.
This project seeks to collect the policies and procedures of Education Departments nationwide to determine where states stand on this issue. We sent requests for school policies and protections for transgender students to all 50 states. Responses have varied - from states that pack extensive policies and methods of support, others who are working their way those, and, finally, those with little to no provisions, leaving gaps for ambiguity and erasure.
Early last year, we submitted non-discrimination policies regarding transgender students to all 50 states Department of Education as well as a few major cities across the U.S. We received 50 very different responses, varying from merely suggested policies to fully formed plans with structure and consequence.
Last year, Wyoming sued over federal Title IX expansions that included gender identity. Meanwhile, Vermont is a decade-ahead in expanding transgender student rights.
The Oregon Department of Education has responded to a request for LGBT protections within their schools with a fee estimate of $260 - over five times the previously highest estimate we’ve seen for the same information.