© 2024 Peoria Public Radio
A joint service of Bradley University and Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WCBU is off the air. Our streaming is also down. Please follow our Facebook page for the latest weather updates.

What do changes to Title IX mean for LGBTQ students?

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The Biden administration has expanded protections under the civil rights law known as Title IX. The 1972 law prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs and activities. The new rules issued last Friday protect LGBTQ students as well. Here is U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona announcing the changes.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MIGUEL CARDONA: This final regulation strengthens and restores vital protections against sex discrimination, including sexual harassment. It also protects students against discrimination based on pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation and gender identity.

MARTIN: The expanded rules take effect August 1 in time for the new school year, and they apply to schools and activities that receive federal funding. Emma Grasso Levine is with Know Your IX. That's a nonprofit that works with youth to end sexual violence in schools, and we called them to tell us what these new rules are all about. Emma, good morning.

EMMA GRASSO LEVINE: Good morning. Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: So, you know, new rules are - this is a fairly comprehensive set of rules. Some of them restore regulations that were in place before the Trump administration. Some of these are new. So could you just give us one or two things that stood out to you?

LEVINE: Sure. So overall, Biden's changes to Title IX regulations restore Title IX's promise of strong protections for student survivors, LGBTQ students, and pregnant and parenting students. And these new rules will really make it easier for students, both in K-12 schools and institutions of higher education, to come forward when they experience harm.

MARTIN: Give me an example. Can you give me one or two examples specifically?

LEVINE: Sure. So, you know, what we're really seeing is that students under the Trump administration's rules had a much harder time reporting harassment and receiving the resources that they need, things like academic support and accommodations, you know, being able to report and receive the support that they deserve after experiencing harassment and discrimination.

MARTIN: So earlier this year, a teenager in Oklahoma named Nex Benedict was found dead at home after they were attacked by a group of their classmates. Benedict said they'd been bullied for months because they identified as nonbinary. Would changes like this protect students like Benedict who are bullied at school?

LEVINE: Absolutely. So Title IX guarantees the rights of LGBTQI+ students to come to school as themselves without fear of harassment or discrimination? And the Biden rule change really affirms that. That includes these Title IX rules affirming that students should be free to express themselves in their gender and sexual orientation at school and at school-sponsored events, including being able to use the bathroom in accordance with their gender identity without any fear of discipline, harassment, or violence.

MARTIN: Well, help me understand this. There - some states restrict which bathrooms transgender students can use. Will those states now have to change those rules?

LEVINE: You know, that really remains to be seen. I think Title IX advocates are anxiously awaiting potential legal challenges to this rule and how those will play out at the state level. But again, Title IX affirms the rights of LGBTQI+ students to come to school, and I think that's extra important in this moment when we're seeing these escalating attacks on LGBTQI youths' rights at the state level.

MARTIN: Before we let you go, it's my understanding that these new rules don't apply to transgender student athletes. So schools could, if they want, forbid these trans athletes from playing on teams that correspond with their gender identity. Will that be addressed at some point?

LEVINE: Yes, it will be. The Biden administration is working on a separate rule. But what's important to note here is that even in the absence of an explicit athletics rule, Title IX does protect trans, intersex and nonbinary student athletes.

MARTIN: That is Emma Grasso Levine, and they are with the youth advocacy group Know Your IX. Emma Grasso Levine, thanks for joining us.

LEVINE: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.