A new document from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), Office for Civil Rights, brings big changes for educational organizations concerning sexual orientation, gender identity, and Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972. 

The Notice of Interpretation signaled a new DOE interpretation of Title IX’s declaration that no educational program (public or private) receiving federal funds shall discriminate “on the basis of sex.” Specifically, Title IX states

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Following the date of publication of the Notice of Interpretation in the Federal Register in the near future, the DOE will interpret Title IX’s protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity. This announcement follows the watershed Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County from June 2020. 

In that case, a majority of the justices agreed that the protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment on the “basis of sex”, extend to LGBTQ+ employees. The crux of that decision, according to the DOE, is that “it is impossible to discriminate against a person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity without discriminating against that person based on sex.” 

In a press release, DOE Secretary Miguel Cardona celebrated this step forward: 

“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. 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.”  

This decision will impact thousands of organizations. According to the NCAA, “Almost all private colleges and universities must abide by Title IX regulations because they receive federal funding through federal financial aid programs used by their students.” These organizations should be proactive in light of the new Notice of Interpretation, particularly with respect to their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs. 

Schools and programs that have the metrics to back up their DEI efforts will fare better under increased scrutiny from students, trustees, employees, regulators, and the general public. Trusaic’s PayParitySM DEI monthly monitoring platform provides a path forward to ensure organizations achieve their DEI goals. To find out more about how organizations can bolster their DEI efforts with the help of an expert partner, download our white paper: DEI In ESG Reporting