MDE Supports Federal Title IX Action Prohibiting Sexual Discrimination

Contact: Martin Ackley, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs 517-241-4395
Agency: Education

June 16, 2021

LANSING - The Michigan Department of Education supports the announcement today by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights that the federal department will enforce Title IX's prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex to include: (1) discrimination based on sexual orientation; and (2) discrimination based on gender identity.

"We appreciate the U.S. Department of Education's announcement recognizing that all means all when protecting the rights of our students," said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. "Diversity, equity, and inclusion for all students, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation, make our schools stronger, safer and more dynamic.

"Learning side-by-side helps build a society that can live side-by-side," Dr. Rice said. "We need to foster this acceptance more each day for our children to witness, experience, and learn."

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity offered by a recipient of federal financial assistance.

"I applaud this move by the U.S. Department of Education and appreciate the work being done by the Michigan Department of Education to ensure its positive impact," said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. "No student-regardless of their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation-should ever face harassment or discrimination. I support this enforcement and will continue to fight for equal treatment and protection under the law as Michigan's top law enforcement officer."

The interpretation of the U.S. Department of Education (USED) stems from the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, issued one year ago this week, in which the Supreme Court recognized 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, which is prohibited by law.

The USED's Office of Civil Rights recently reported that LGBTQ+ students often face additional challenges in schools, including disproportionately experiencing persistent bullying, harassment, and victimization.

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) says it has long recognized that Title IX protects all students, including students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, from harassment and other forms of sex discrimination, and that Title IX prohibits harassment and other forms of discrimination against all students for not conforming to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity.

USED issued today's Notice of Interpretation addressing Title IX's coverage of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in light of the Bostock v. Clayton County Supreme Court decision.