For 45 years, Title IX has helped protect students from gender discrimination but recently the Trump Administration has been tweaking guidelines for the influential civil rights law.
Despite these changes, Title IX still benefits students. Here are a few groups the legislation helps.
1. Sexual assault survivors
The new Trump-era guidelines give colleges more power over sexual assault cases. This may not be the best idea, as universities across the country may under-report or even cover up sexual violence on campus.
Title IX has been used to protect survivors. Though its standards are weakening, the legislation is still there.
2. Transgender people
Former President Barack Obama used Title IX to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that matched their gender identities.
The Departments of Education and Justice withdrew this guidance earlier this year. Yet, as the National Center for Transgender Equality clarifies, “The guidance itself didn’t change the law or create protections for transgender students that weren’t there before. It just clarified how the Department of Education would be enforcing existing laws.”
Essentially, trans students are still protected. After all, sex discrimination is sex discrimination.
3. Pregnant students
Under Title IX, students facing pregnancy-related issues should be given the accommodations that students with temporary disabilities would get. For example, professors need to excuse pregnancy-related absences otherwise, they’re in violation of Title IX.
4. Student athletes
We often talk about Title IX in the context of school sports. Indeed, the law does protect student athletes of all genders.
Women’s sports need to get the same funding and resources as men’s sports, according to the law. However, a Vice investigation found many big-name colleges disproportionately favor their men’s programs anyway.
5. Bullying and harassment targets
If bullies target someone for their gender, Title IX has their back. As the National Women’s Law Center notes, this protects women targeted by sexually explicit gossip, and also protects men from getting harassed with sexist and homophobic names like “fairy.”
Schools need to take action on bullying and harassment incidents or they will fall foul of the law.
6. Math and science scholars
Before Title IX, colleges steered women away from majors in math and science.
Although the gender gap in STEM persists today, the law ensures someone can’t be pushed out of their chosen study because of their gender.
7. Those Who File Complaints
Legally, colleges aren’t allowed to retaliate against those who file Title IX complaints.
If you experience or witness sex discrimination in higher education, the Women’s Law Center has some good tips to help you.
The Human Rights Campaign is also supporting a Care2 petition to urge the Trump Administration and Betsy DeVos to protect LGBT students through Title IX.
And if you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.
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