From K-12 Dive

Today, April 19, 2024, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) issued its long-awaited Title IX rule, which for the first time enshrines protections for LGBTQI+ students and employees, as well as pregnant students and employees,under the civil rights law that prevents sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs. 

“No one should have to give up their dreams of attending or finishing school because they’re pregnant,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in a press briefing late Thursday. “No one should face bullying or discrimination just because of who they are or who they love. Sadly, this happens all too often.”

Among other changes, the new rule defines sex-based harassment as including harassment based on sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy and related conditions, and gender identity and sexual orientation.  It cements federal protections for LGTBQI+ students and employees that have swung between administrations for over a decade.

The new regulations also:

  • Require that schools assume an accused student is innocent at the outset of an investigation.
  • Give schools the ability to offer an informal resolution process, except in cases of student allegations against employees. 
  • Require schools to provide breastfeeding rooms for students and employees.
  • Protect students and employees with medical conditions related to, or who are recovering from, termination of pregnancy. 
  • Revive the single-investigator model, which allows an individual to serve as both the case decision-maker and Title IX investigator.
  • Provide more discretion to schools and colleges to tailor Title IX policies based on their size, age of students, and administrative structures. 
  • Make questioning at live hearings optional for colleges and universities.
  • Have institutions largely rely on the “preponderance of the evidence” standard often used in civil lawsuits, making optional the “clear and convincing” standard.

The rule’s anticipated changes were expected to largely overhaul higher education requirements under the 2020 regulations put in place by former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and make lesser tweaks to K-12 portions of the rule. 

For more details from K-12 Dive, click here.