Wednesday, June 21, 2017

DOE Issues New Instructions On Transgender Students' Rights Under Title IX

As previously reported, in February the Trump Administration withdrew controversial Obama Administration's Guidance documents on rights of transgender students under Title IX.  The withdrawn documents called for transgender students to have access to sex-segregated bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.  On June 6 the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights issued a memo (full text) setting out new "Instructions to the Field re Complaints Involving Transgender Students."  The new Memo emphasizes that withdrawal of the Obama Administration guidance documents "does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying or harassment."

The Memo provides that DOE may open an investigation in various situations, including cases in which gender-based harassment has created a hostile environment for a transgender student.  The Memo then sets out examples:
acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, such as refusing to use a transgender student’s preferred name or pronouns when the school uses preferred names for gender-conforming students or when the refusal is motivated by animus toward people who do not conform to sex stereotypes of a transgender student created a hostile environment....
Liberty Counsel, a conservative Christian advocacy organization, this week issued a press release criticizing DOE's new Memo, saying in part:
“Title IX does not require a school district or teacher to call students by false gender pronouns,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Title IX is silent regarding the use of pronouns, and it cannot be a violation to refer to students by pronouns consistent with their actual sex. Requiring false pronoun usage by teachers is a compelled speech violation for teachers and compelling students to participate in a lie violates their right to free speech. I thought we had seen the last of this nonsense coming out of the Department of Education. I call upon Betsy DeVoss to end this new policy,” said Staver.