100 Days Out: Trump v. Biden on LGBTQ Equality in Schools

Over the coming days, HRC will be highlighting the key attacks from the Trump-Pence Administration and the commitments from the Biden administration to undo those attacks and build a better future for LGBTQ people. These are Trump’s attacks and Biden’s record and plans for LGBTQ equality in schools:

TRUMP’S ATTACKS

  1. Guidance for Schools on Transgender Students: The Departments of Education and Justice eliminated Obama-era guidance clarifying that schools must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity. This encourages school officials to permit harassment of transgender students, deny access to facilities consistent with gender identity, and refuse to use correct names and pronouns — all inflicting untold emotional harm.
     
  2. Rejected Complaints From Transgender Students: The Department of Education refused to respond to civil complaints filed by transgender students, including those who were barred from using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. This increases the burden for transgender students to combat these harmful policies.
     
  3. Allowed certain schools to ignore nondiscrimination standards: In 2019, the Department of Education published final regulations permitting religious schools to ignore nondiscrimination standards set by accrediting agencies.
     
  4. Suggested it is acceptable for schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students while accepting tax-payer funds: Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has refused to rule out federal funding for schools that discriminate against LGBTQ students and has declined to state she would otherwise intervene should discrimination occur.
     
  5. Sexual Assault: DeVos rescinded Title IX rules related to schools’ obligations to address sexual harassment, including sexual violence. By eliminating the Obama-era rules, DeVos increased the standard of proof from “preponderance of the evidence” to “clear and convincing evidence” making it more difficult for survivors of sexual assault to obtain justice. LGBTQ people are disproportionately affected by sexual assault and harassment, and the stigma that many LGBTQ people face can make it more difficult for survivors to report.
     
  6. Eliminated language protecting LGBTQ children participating in the 4-H program: The Trump-Pence Administration ordered 4-H programs to remove a policy specifically welcoming LGBTQ children in the 4-H program, which led to the firing of an official who protested.
     
  7. Used Title IX to discriminate against trans students: the Department of Education claimed that school policies allowing trans youth to participate in sports consistent with their gender identity violated federal law and threatened to withhold funds.

BIDEN’S RECORD AND PLANS

  1. Reinstate guidance protecting transgender and gender non-conforming students: Biden has committed to restoring Obama-Biden era guidance revoked by the Trump-Pence Administration, which will restore transgender and gender non-conforming students’ access to sports, bathrooms, and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity
     
  2. Enact the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act: As President, Biden will enact these pieces of legislation which will establish grant programs to support campus anti-harassment programs and require school districts to develop bullying and harassment policies.
     
  3. Promised to address disproportionate school discipline on LGBTQ students, students of color and students with disabilities: Biden has committed to expanding the Obama-Biden Administration’s work to address the disproportionate impact of school discipline on girls of color to include LGBTQ+ students, all students of color, and students with disabilities.

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