June 30, 2021

LGBTQIA+ students once again have protections under Title IX.

On June 16, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) issued a Notice of Interpretation explaining that it will enforce Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681-1688 (“Title IX”), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity offered by a recipient of Federal financial assistance, to include: (1) discrimination based on sexual orientation; and (2) discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Under former President Trump, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice issued guidelines rescinding policies promulgated by the Obama administration that previously extended sex-based discrimination protection to transgender students.

The OCR’s June 16, 2021 Notice of Interpretation signals a return to Obama-era interpretations extending Title IX’s reach and comes one year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, 140 S.Ct. 1731 (2020). In Bostock, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., which prohibits sex discrimination in employment, necessarily prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity because such forms of discrimination inherently involve treating individuals differently because of their sex.

California law provides even stronger protections for LGBTQIA+ individuals. California Education Code § 220 explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation against any person “in any program or activity conducted by an educational institution that receives, or benefits from, state financial assistance, or enrolls pupils who receive state student financial aid.”

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Government Code § 12900, et seq., prohibits employers from discriminating from against employees on the basis of their sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. 

For students and employees, it is important that you can study and work in an environment free from discrimination. If you think you have been the victim of discrimination based on your gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexual orientation, please contact the attorneys at Freeburg & Granieri, APC today.

If you are an educator or employer, please contact the attorneys at Freeburg & Granieri, APC to discuss how we can help your organization properly navigate the laws and requirements to prevent unlawful discrimination in your workplace. The attorneys at Freeburg & Granieri, APC can also assist employers in drafting LGBTQIA+ inclusive policies.


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