Betsy DeVos, former Secretary of Education under Trump, may have been one of a handful of government employees to resign after January 6th’s attack on the US Capitol, but she made sure to leave maliciousness behind as she left.
An internal memo published last week essentially wiped out LGBTQ+ rights in schools. In a 13-page document, the Department of Education further discussed its previous position that Title IX protections do not apply to transgender students by claiming vast differences between the definitions of sex in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
While the memo does say that Title IX may protect LGBTQ+ students from sexual harassment, it claims that trans students who compete on school teams in alignment with their gender is in direct violation of federal civil rights laws because “the sexes are not similarly situated.” The memo also suggests that Title IX forces schools to refuse gender-affirming bathroom access to trans students, despite a number of landmark cases — including Adams v. The School Board of St. Johns County and Grimm v. Gloucester — legally concluding the opposite.
“We believe a recipient generally would not violate Title IX by, for example, recording a student’s biological sex in school records, or referring to a student using sex-based pronouns that correspond to the student’s biological sex, or refusing to permit a student to participate in a program or activity lawfully provided for members of the opposite sex, regardless of transgender status or homosexuality,” reads the January memo.
In essence, the new memo by DeVos is a last-ditch attempt to block trans athletes from participating in school sports teams that align with their genders. It’s behavior that has unfortunately been commonplace from former Secretary DeVos over the course of Trump’s administration. Just last September, DeVos threatened to withhold federal funding from Connecticut schools that included trans students on single-sex sports teams. She’s also personally responsible for the 2017 decision to roll-back Obama-era protections under Title IX for trans students and redefine the term “sex” within the protections — a move that ended up fueling the “trans bathroom debate.”
With DeVos out and a new Biden administration preparing to take over the White House in little more than a week, we can only hope that the new President and his team will work to protect the LGBTQ+ community from these harmful policies, rather than continuing to enact them.