There’s Already A Federal Law Protecting Transgender Students, and Today Is Its 45th Birthday

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June 23, 2017

Happy birthday, Title IX!

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was passed into law 45 years ago today. It was designed to prevent schools that receive federal funding from discriminating against people on the basis of sex.

Prior to Title IX, many women were denied scholarships and other academic opportunities. Many universities would not even admit women. But today – thanks, in part, to Title IX – there are more women than men enrolled in college.

The impact of Title IX on women’s athletics has also been profound. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, the number of women participating in high school athletics has skyrocketed from one out of every 27 women (before Title IX) to two out of every five women now.

Although Title IX advanced gender equality in many ways, there is obviously still much work to be done.

Especially for LGBTQ students.

It’s no secret that LGBTQ students experience higher rates of gender-based harassment in school (if you think that homophobia is not linked to social pressure to conform to gender stereotypes, have we got some news for you). But all too often, school districts and administrators fail to protect students when this bullying occurs.

Further concerning is the growing number of religious colleges that receive federal funding and that are claiming a religious exemption from Title IX. According to a recent report, at least 56 schools have requested religious exemptions, which would allow them to discriminate against LGBTQ students and school employees without fear of reprisal.

Transgender students, in particular, experience higher rates of gender-based harassment and discrimination. Are you surprised? I’m not.

But LGBTQ students are standing up and fighting for their rights using Title IX. And guess what; they’re winning.

Lambda Legal is spearheading legal challenges against those schools that choose to discriminate.

Right now, for instance, we’re challenging a school district in Pennsylvania on behalf of a group of transgender students who were denied the right to use the restroom, and thus were denied an equal opportunity to learn. Similar cases, brought by other LGBTQ legal organizations, are also moving forward in Ohio and in Wisconsin.

In each of these cases, courts have issued preliminary injunctions affirming the right of these students to use the restroom while the litigation proceeds.

These cases, among others, are being made in spite of a mean-spirited federal administration.

An administration that has rescinded helpful guidelines clarifying the duties of school districts under Title IX and, in turn, protections for transgender students. An administration that continues to – subtly or not – attack our community at every turn.

But despite these attacks, Title IX still prohibits discrimination against transgender people – especially in the restroom. And Lambda Legal will not stop vigorously defending those protections.

It is imperative that we continue to build on the promise of Title IX, and further expand gender equality so that all students can academically thrive and fully participate in their educational experience, free from gender-based harassment and discrimination.

Are you ready join the fight? Here are three ways that you can help build on that promise:

1. Learn more about how the law protects LGBTQ students by clicking here.

2. If you’re a parent or a student, learn more about your right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights here.

3. Contact your legislator and demand that they do more to protect LGBTQ students.  

     a. Find your U.S. representative by entering your zip code here.

     b. Find your U.S. Senator by clicking here.