APRIL 6, 2021
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The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today announced a comprehensive review of the Department’s regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as part of implementing President Biden’s March 8 Executive Order on Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.
In a letter to students, educators, and other stakeholders, OCR outlined plans to solicit the public’s input on the regulations, ultimately leading to possible revisions through a notice of proposed rulemaking.
“Building educational environments free from discrimination where our nation’s students can grow and thrive is a top priority of the Biden-Harris Administration,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “Today’s action is the first step in making sure that the Title IX regulations are effective and are fostering safe learning environments for our students while implementing fair processes. Sexual harassment and other forms of sex discrimination, including in extracurricular activities and other educational settings, threaten access to education for students of all ages. As Secretary, I will work to ensure all students—no matter their background, who they are, or how they identify—can succeed in the classroom and beyond.”
The March 8 Executive Order stresses the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to the nation’s students and its belief that all students should be guaranteed an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, including in the form of sexual harassment, which encompasses sexual violence, and including discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Executive Order requires the Department to review and reconsider all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions, including the 2020 amendments to the Department’s Title IX regulations, formally known as the “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance.”
The letter to stakeholders explains that OCR is undertaking a comprehensive review of the Department’s existing regulations and other actions related to Title IX by gathering the public’s views and insights on the issue of sexual harassment in school environments, including sexual violence, and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This feedback will help OCR determine what additional changes to the Title IX regulations and any related agency actions may be necessary to fulfill the Executive Order. The input will also support the Department’s commitment to ensuring equal and nondiscriminatory access to education for students in schools across the nation, from pre-K-12 and in postsecondary institutions, including in extracurricular activities and other educational settings. During this review process, the existing Title IX regulations, as amended in 2020, remain in effect.
As part of this comprehensive review, OCR seeks to hear from as many interested parties as possible. To facilitate this, OCR plans to hold a public hearing to enable those who are interested to share their views through oral comments and written submissions. More information on the hearing will be available in the coming weeks and will be posted on the News Room section of OCR’s website at http://www.ed.gov/ocr/newsroom.html. After listening to the public and completing its review of the Title IX regulations, OCR anticipates publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking.
To assist schools, students, and others in better understanding OCR’s expectations with respect to compliance with Title IX and the 2020 amendments, OCR will also issue a new question-and-answer document in the coming weeks.
“Throughout this process, the Office for Civil Rights will be guided by our responsibility to ensure that schools are providing appropriate support for students who have experienced sexual harassment, including sexual violence, and that school procedures are fair and equitable for all parties and cognizant of the sensitive issues that are often involved,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, acting assistant secretary for civil rights. “The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is responsible for and fully committed to enforcing Title IX’s protections to ensure equal access to education for all students regardless of sex. This includes making certain that students who have experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity have their legal rights fully met.”