Title IX Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Issues
On April 29, 2014, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education issued official guidance which makes clear that transgender students are protected from discrimination under Title IX. Specifically, the guidance states that “Title IX’s sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity and OCR accepts such complaints for investigation.”
The Evolution of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Protection
The OCR guidance was developed, in part, in response to courts and federal agencies that were making clear that transgender and gender nonconforming individual (people who do not conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity) are covered under laws that protect people from discrimination based on sex. In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled, in a case brought by Transgender Law Center, that transgender people are protected from discrimination in the workplace under Title VII, the parallel federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in employment. In 2013, the OCR and U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division settled a lawsuit brought by a transgender student against the Arcadia Unified School District for denying him access to the same facilities and activities as other boys. The settlement referenced the EEOC ruling. The April 2014 guidance from the OCR makes it clear that under federal law schools cannot exclude transgender students from the opportunity to fully participate and succeed in school.
Title IX Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Student Protection
The National Center for Transgender Equality outlines the Title IX protection afforded to transgender and gender non-conforming students as follows:
- You have the right not to be bullied or harassed because you are transgender or gender non-conforming. If school administrators become aware of bullying or harassment they must take action to end it.
- You have the right to equal educational opportunities regardless of your gender identity or expression or your race, nationality, or disability. This includes not being punished or excluded from school activities or events because you are transgender or gender non-conforming.
- You have the right to present yourself in a way that is consistent with your gender identity, so long as you follow rules for how to dress that apply to all students.
- You have the right to use restrooms and other facilities that are consistent with your gender identity, and can’t be forced to use separate restrooms.
- You have the right to privacy concerning your transgender status and gender transition. Any such information kept in school records must be kept private and not shared without your permission.
- You have the right to join or start a Gay-Straight Alliance or Pride Alliance, and to have your group treated like other student groups.
Contact a National Title IX Attorney
If you or someone close to you has experienced bullying or discrimination, you can start by bringing your concerns to school and district officials. Before you speak to school personnel, however, consider speaking to the attorneys at Duffy Law who have extensive experience with Title IX actions. Duffy Law attorneys can review the specifics of your case and help you decide the manner in which to proceed that best protects your rights. Call today at 203-946-2000.