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Biden Administration Updates Title IX Harassment Standards in Humanist Issue to Protect LGBTQ+ Students

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The Biden administration has recently announced significant updates to Title IX, the landmark 1972 law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities. These changes aim to enhance harassment standards and expand protections for LGBTQ+ students, marking a notable shift in federal policy and addressing long-standing issues of discrimination and safety in educational settings.

Biden Administration Updates Title IX Harassment Standards in Humanist Issue to Protect LGBTQ+ Students

(Photo : WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Office of the President of the United States)

Strengthening Harassment Standards and Expanding Protections

The updated regulations under Title IX seek to create a more inclusive and safe environment for all students, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. According to the U.S. Department of Education, these changes are designed to protect against all forms of sex-based harassment and discrimination, including those based on sex stereotypes, sexual orientation, gender identity, and sexual characteristics. This comprehensive approach is intended to ensure that educational institutions uphold a standard of respect and equality for every student.

One of the key updates to Title IX removes the requirement for in-person hearings, which were mandated under the Trump administration's 2020 changes. These live hearings, where students accused of sexual assault could confront and question their accusers in a courtroom-like setting, were widely criticized for being traumatic and not survivor-centric. The Biden administration's revisions aim to create a more supportive and restorative process for resolving complaints, better aligning with the needs and realities of college campuses.

Kristi Clemens, the Title IX coordinator at Dartmouth College, emphasized how the new changes would affect the institution's procedures. She explained that since 2014, Dartmouth's sexual misconduct policy has included a live hearing component. The 2020 update introduced a requirement for live cross-examination in Title IX Prohibited Conduct hearings, expanding the role of these hearings. The recent removal of mandatory in-person hearings is anticipated to make the process less confrontational and more supportive of survivors. 

READ MORE: Title IX Revisions Under Biden Administration Leave Trans Athletes In Limbo 

A Humanist Issue: Addressing Discrimination and Promoting Equality

The updates to Title IX are not just a legal or administrative matter; they represent a fundamental humanist issue. Humanism emphasizes every individual's inherent worth and dignity, the importance of diversity, and the commitment to equality and justice. The Biden administration's changes reflect these values by explicitly protecting LGBTQ+ students and addressing the systemic discrimination they often face in educational settings.

These changes have not been without controversy. Several states, including Texas and Arkansas, have denounced the updated guidelines, arguing that they undermine traditional values and women's rights. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has even ordered state institutions to ignore the new federal guidance. However, supporters of the updates argue that these protections are essential for creating a fair and inclusive environment for all students.

The backlash against the updated Title IX guidelines highlights the ongoing struggle for LGBTQ+ rights in the United States. Many lawmakers opposing these changes are using religious or conservative arguments to justify continued discrimination. For humanists, this opposition underscores the importance of advocating for policies that promote equality and protect the rights of all individuals, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Implementing Changes and Looking Ahead

Educational institutions across the country are now tasked with implementing the new Title IX regulations. At Dartmouth College, the Title IX Office actively reviews and updates its policies to ensure they align with the new federal guidelines. Clemens emphasized the college's commitment to protecting transgender student-athletes and ensuring that all members of the Dartmouth community are free from harassment and discrimination.

The Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault at Dartmouth is hopeful that the federal updates will allow the Title IX Office to adopt a more restorative approach toward resolutions. Ann Tran, the committee's executive chair, expressed optimism about the changes, stating, "These new regulations and their more expansive definition of sexual assault will be a lot more beneficial for students, especially as the definitions and norms surrounding sexual assault and sexual violence have changed."

As educational institutions work to implement these changes, it is crucial to ensure that the voices of students and survivors are heard and that policies are developed with their needs in mind. The updated Title IX regulations represent a significant step toward creating safer and more inclusive educational environments. However, continued advocacy and vigilance are necessary to protect and expand these hard-won rights.

The Biden administration's updates to Title IX reflect a broader commitment to equality and justice, addressing both historical and contemporary discrimination issues. As these changes take effect, educators, policymakers, and advocates need to work together to create an environment where all students can thrive, free from harassment and discrimination.

RELATED ARTICLE: Biden Administration's Title IX Overhaul Sparks Backlash And Legal Battles, Threatening Women's Sports And Rights 

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