On June 16, the U.S. Department of Education announced that transgender students were protected under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded schools.
The news was a reversal of policies enacted under President Donald Trump that rolled back protections for people who are transgender. We talked with Andy Cofino, director of the UCLA LGBTQ Campus Resource Center about the news and what he views as its significance.
What was your reaction when you heard the federal department of education will extend Title IX protections to transgender students?
I was overjoyed to learn that the department of education now explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, effectively extending its protections for LGBQ and specifically, transgender and nonbinary students. Given the current national climate, this is a major moment for our communities. Over the past several years, trans students have been specifically targeted by the previous presidential administration as well as more than 100 state bills across the country. It’s a relief to know our federal government again recognizes the humanity of our communities and aims to protect LGBQ and trans and nonbinary people from discrimination within an educational setting.
What difference do you think this will make in the day to day lived experience of transgender students?
This extension affirms that the federal government recognizes and cares about transgender students, affirming who they are and providing equitable opportunities for them to thrive in school without discrimination. While I hope Title IX violations are never a part of any student’s experience, this extension allows transgender and nonbinary students to know if they were to report a violation, it would not be denied simply because of their identity. For a population of students who are already at a much higher rate for violence and harassment, this is significant.
What are the next top priorities for promoting the well-being transgender students?
There are dozens of bills across the country right now threatening the rights of transgender athletes to participate in sports that correspond with their gender identities. Additionally, 20 states have introduced bills that prohibit or create barriers to access gender-affirming therapy. And there are also bills that threaten to limit or ban access to gender-inclusive restrooms and locker rooms. It is critical we ensure all of our campuses provide equitable accessible to resources so they can thrive in college, including access to health care, restrooms and locker rooms, and the ability to participate in campus and recreational life.
Do you have any other thoughts you would like to add about this news?
I’m proud that UCLA held steadfast in its interpretation of Title IX, including gender identity and gender expression as protected categories, even through the recent tumultuous period when the federal government rolled back its guidance.