The U.S. Education Department announced Wednesday that Title IX — a law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in federally-funded schools — will extend to transgender students.
The decision is based on Bostock v. Clayton County, a Supreme Court case issued one year ago this week. The court ruled it is impossible to discriminate against a person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity without discriminating against that person based on sex.
Wednesday’s announcement indicates that the education department interprets the court’s ruling as also applying to students.
“The Supreme Court has upheld the right for LGBTQ+ people to live and work without fear of harassment, exclusion and discrimination — and our LGBTQ+ students have the same rights and deserve the same protections,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a press release. “Today, the Department makes clear that all students — including LGBTQ+ students — deserve the opportunity to learn and thrive in schools that are free from discrimination.”
The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights recently reported that LGBTQ+ students often face additional challenges in schools, including disproportionately experiencing persistent bullying, harassment and victimization. The vulnerability of LGBTQ+ students has only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report, leaving them without access to school-based mental health services and other supports.
According to a study by the Trevor Project, 78 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth reported their mental health as “poor” either most of the time or always during the pandemic, compared to 61 percent of cisgender youth.