The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education reached a settlement agreement Wednesday, and trans students across the nation can enjoy greater protection as a result. The agreement comes after a trans male middle school student brought a discrimination complaint against the Arcadia Unified School District in California after being barred from using the boys restrooms and locker rooms. They also barred the student from bunking in the boys cabin during a district-sponsored class trip. The district will have to make "system-wide changes" as a result of the settlement.
"The agreement is the latest mark of a growing legal and administrative trend to interpret bans on sex discrimination as including discrimination based on gender identity and transgender status, and Wednesday’s settlement applied that definition to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the law that bans sex discrimination in education."
As a result of DOJ and DOE's decision, no school district will be able to discriminate against a transgender student without violating federal law. In their own words, "[a]ll students, including transgender students and students who do not conform to sex stereotypes, are protected from sex-based discrimination under Title IX." They explained the decision by saying…
“In the employment context, federal courts and administrative agencies have applied Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination, to discrimination against transgender individuals based on sex, including nonconformity with sex stereotypes and gender identity.”
Thus, this is certainly not the first time that federal agencies have interpreted prior bans on sex discrimination to include protection of trans people. As was explained by Asaf Orr, the National Center for Lesbian Rights staff attorney who represented the student…
“This is a natural extension of the way courts and administrative agencies are interpreting sex-stereotyping. This resolution shows the federal government is continuing to import the sex-stereotyping definition as applied elsewhere, specifically Title VII, into the Title IX context.”
Officials from both agencies did note that “[t]his letter is not a formal statement of [the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights’s] policy and should not be relied upon, cited, or construed as such." Rather, they maintain that this decision is merely an extension of prior ones made by other federal entities. Buzzfeed referred to it as "an expansion of the terminology, if not reasoning".
You can read the full resolution agreement HERE.
You can read the letter closing the complaint HERE.