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Biden expands Title IX protections for pregnancy, trans people, and sexual assault victims

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(WASHINGTON) — The Biden administration has finalized new Title IX regulations that codify protections for transgender people, as well as enhance protections for victims of sexual assault or harassment and pregnant people.

“For more than 50 years, Title IX has promised an equal opportunity to learn and thrive in our nation’s schools free from sex discrimination,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in a statement on the revision. “These final regulations build on the legacy of Title IX by clarifying that all our nation’s students can access schools that are safe, welcoming, and respect their rights.”

The new regulations officially add “gender identity” onto the list of protections from sex-based discrimination for the first time, though the administration said it has already been applying this standard.

A decision on the administration’s proposed Title IX rule that would prohibit a blanket ban on transgender athletes from participating on teams aligned with their gender identity was not included in today’s announcement. That process is still ongoing, according to a senior administration official.

The Title IX update also now offers full protection from all “sex-based harassment,” broadening the definition to include “sexual violence and unwelcome sex-based conduct that creates a hostile environment by limiting or denying a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from a school’s education program or activity.”

These changes roll back the narrowed definitions of sexual harassment implemented by former President Donald Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The regulations update also enhances protections for students, employees, and applicants against discrimination “based on pregnancy, childbirth, termination of pregnancy, lactation, related medical conditions, or recovery from these conditions.”

The final regulations, which take effect Aug. 1, also require increased accountability for schools in promptly responding to information about misconduct based on sex discrimination, according to the Biden administration.

Schools will be required to train employees “about the school’s obligation to address sex discrimination, as well as employees’ obligations to notify or provide contact information for the Title IX Coordinator” and strengthen requirements for schools conducting “reliable and impartial” investigations of all complaints.

“These regulations make crystal clear that everyone can access schools that are safe, welcoming, and that respect their rights,” Cardona said.

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