Updated Biden administration rules will soon affect students across US: What to know

Students and school employees across America will be impacted in the fall by new changes to a rule that affects all federally-funded schools.

Practically, it’s a sweeping update to how schools will have to handle sex discrimination and abuse cases. Politically, it’s a part of a power struggle between the Trump and Biden administrations. 

What’s new? The Biden administration released a new set of rules this week overhauling the Trump administration’s Title IX rules – which gave more rights to alleged perpetrators of sexual assault and harassment. The new rules also stipulate further protections for LGBTQ+ students as well as parenting and pregnant students.

What is Title IX? Title IX is a civil rights law that bans sex discrimination against students, employees and others at public schools, colleges and universities that receive federal funding. 

What were some of the old rules? For cases of sexual assault, they stipulated that schools only had to investigate claims that met a certain threshold of sex discrimination and were made through a formal reporting process. It also raised the bar of proof for sexual misconduct on college campuses. They prohibited investigations of cases that occurred off campus.

Why does the change matter? Critics argued the Trump-era rules prevented people accused of sexual harassment, assault or discrimination from facing repercussions. Supporters contended the rules rightly strengthened due-process protections for accused students or faculty members.

Biden’s new Title IX rules will affect people on the nation’s school campuses starting in August. 

What happened this week?

The Biden administration’s new set of guidance overhauls Trump-era rules that in part narrowed which and how schools could investigate sex discrimination cases. President Joe Biden in his 2020 presidential campaign vowed to overturn the changes made under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The new rules expand the definition of sexual assault and harassment. That means schools could investigate more cases of discrimination, abuse or harassment filed by people on school campuses under the scope of the law. 

College student survivors will no longer be required to attend live hearings or go through cross examinations. And people will be given the right to “prompt and equitable grievance procedures,” the rule reads.

LGBTQ+ students will be guaranteed protection under the law if they are discriminated against for their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Pregnant and parenting students who might receive unwanted sexual attention, shame or punishment at schools will also be granted more protections from sex discrimination in the admissions process and on campus.

“These final regulations build on the legacy of Title IX by clarifying that all our nation’s students can access schools that are safe, welcoming, and respect their rights,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. 

Who is impacted by the changes to Title IX?

The rule changes have a wide range of effects on students, among the most notable examples:

Sexual assault survivors: The new rules will have sweeping effects on survivors of sexual misconduct and those accused of crimes. Among the changes: The definition of sexual assault will be expanded in K-12 schools and colleges.

LGBTQ+ students: Biden’s Title IX update stipulates protections from sex discrimination based gender identity for the first time. 

Pregnant and parenting students: The new regulations extend the definition of “sex-based harassment” to include pregnant people on campuses.

Ruling on transgender student participation in sports remains unsettled

The Biden administration did not rule on whether transgender and nonbinary students can participate on the sports teams that align with their gender. 

The administration released a proposed rule in April 2023 that said schools and colleges largely could not ban nonbinary and transgender students from sports teams in the new Title IX rules.  

Contact Kayla Jimenez at kjimenez@usatoday.com. Follow her on X at @kaylajjimenez.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden’s new Title IX rules explained: Here’s what we know

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