U.S. News

Education Department to protect students based on sexual orientation, gender identity

By Danielle Haynes   |   June 16, 2021 at 4:47 PM
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing Wednesday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI The Education Department said it plans to provide protections for students based on sexual orientation and gender identity in response to a Supreme Court ruling last year. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order in March directing the Education Department to review Title IX protections. Photo by Samuel Corum/UPI President Donald Trump 's administration asked the high court to rule that Title VII doesn't cover LGBTQ Americans. File Photo by Samuel Corum/UPI Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had dismantled Obama-era guidelines for sexual discrimination and harassment at federally funded education programs. File Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI

June 16 (UPI) -- The Education Department on Wednesday said it plans to enforce elements of Title IX that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The move comes one year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal civil rights law protects LGBTQ workers from being fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"The Supreme Court has upheld the right for LGBTQ+ people to live and work without fear of harassment, exclusion, and discrimination -- and our LGBTQ+ students have the same rights and deserve the same protections," Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said.

"I'm proud to have directed the Office for Civil Rights to enforce Title IX to protect all students from all forms of sex discrimination. Today, the department makes clear that all students -- including LGBTQ+ students -- deserve the opportunity to learn and thrive in schools that are free from discrimination."

Under the June 15, 2020, Supreme Court ruling, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that Title VII makes it illegal to discriminate based on a person's sex and the landmark law covers gay and transgender Americans.

The justices ruled that sexual orientation and transgender status applies in that description.

The decision came after the Trump administration asked the high court to rule that Title VII doesn't cover LGBTQ Americans, and doing so was not the original intent of lawmakers.

In March, President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing the Education Department to evaluate Title IX regulations issued under the Trump administration to ensure they are compatible with the new administration's policies. Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had dismantled Obama-era guidelines for sexual discrimination and harassment at federally funded education programs.