U.S. Department of Education Announces Plans to Conduct Comprehensive Review of Title IX Regulations
On April 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced plans to begin a comprehensive review of its regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, in response to President Joe Biden’s executive order of March 8, 2021, “Executive Order on Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free From Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity” (Executive Order 14021). According to the order, “all students should be guaranteed an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex,” including discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The executive order requires the Department of Education to “review all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions,” including the final Title IX campus sexual assault regulations, which were released on May 6, 2020, and became effective on August 14, 2020.
In a letter to stakeholders, including students, educators, and other members of the public, OCR explained that it was “undertaking a comprehensive review” of current Title IX regulations and requesting input from the public on “the issue of sexual harassment in school environments, including sexual violence, and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” OCR stated that the feedback would help it determine whether any changes to the Title IX regulations were needed to comply with Executive Order 14021.
OCR asked stakeholders to share their perspectives through oral and written comments at an upcoming public hearing. OCR stated that it would release a new “question-and-answer document in the coming months” to outline its expectations with respect to compliance with Title IX and the 2020 amendments. OCR also stated that it “anticipate[d]” that “[a]fter hearing from the public and completing its review of the Department’s current Title IX regulations and other agency actions, [it would] publish in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend the Department’s Title IX regulations.” During this review process, the existing Title IX regulations will remain in effect.
The next steps could include a notice of proposed rulemaking, legal action to stay enforcement of the 2020 regulations, or even a decision by the Department of Education itself to cease enforcement of some of the new regulations.