UTEP responds to new Title IX changes

Victoria Rivas, Contributor

The Department of Education announced LGBTQ+ students are now protected under Title IX. 

The federal civil rights law, passed in 1972, protects students from discrimination based on sex in any education program that receives federal aid assistance. 

On Wednesday, June 16, it was announced Title IX prohibition on sex-based discrimination will now include discrimination based on sexual orientation and sexual identity. 

UTEP’s Title IX coordinators told The Prospector that “as a public institution of higher education, UTEP adheres to all applicable laws and regulations, including the federal statute commonly known as Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex.” 

The decision comes after a Supreme Court ruling last year in Bostock v. Clayton County that federal civil rights law protects gay and transgender people from discrimination in the workplace. 

“The Supreme Court has upheld the right for LGBTQ+ people to live and work without fear of harassment, exclusion, and discrimination – and our LGBTQ+ students have the same rights and deserve the same protections. I’m proud to have directed the Office for Civil Rights to enforce Title IX to protect all students from all forms of sex discrimination,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, in a statement. 

This decision is an effort by the Biden administration to overturn the Trump-era restrictions on transgender student rights. 

Under Trump’s administration, the Department of Education issued guidance in January that the Supreme Court ruling did not protect transgender students. 

In 2017, the Trump Administration withdrew policies that required public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that corresponded with their sexual identity. 

“I think that LGBTQ+ students will feel safer reporting any discrimination they face on campuses. Before the Title IX update, it was not guaranteed protection. Some students may have felt they would be further discriminated against if they reported any issues,” said Xoey Colmenero-Martinez, a psychology student and former tabling and events coordinator of the Queer Student Alliance. 

The Biden administration works to restore civil rights protections for the LGBTQ+ community. In June, President Biden issued a presidential proclamation recognizing June as Pride month. 

“A time of hope, progress, and promise for LGBTQ+ Americans across the country,” the White House said in a statement. “After four years of relentless attacks on LGBTQ+ rights, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken historic actions to accelerate the march toward full LGBTQ+ equality.” 

During Biden’s first week of his presidency, he signed an executive order overturning the LGBTQ+ military alliance ban set by former President Donald Trump.  

“I’m really glad that those rollbacks, those laws that had been suspended or postponed are being reclaimed again by this new administration,” Guillermina Gina Núñez Mchuri, director of women and gender studies at UTEP said. 

The Department of Education announced the new Title IX decision while the country debates whether transgender athletes should be allowed to play sports on teams that match their gender identity. 

“When someone gets disqualified because they are a female with too much testosterone, it’s just ridiculous. We continue to follow these false narratives of what it means to be male or female,” Núñez Mchuri said. 

According to UTEP’s Title IX program, the institution does not tolerate discrimination as an inclusive organization. It allows reported victims to seek institutional support and file formal complaints.  

For years, UTEP’s non-discrimination policy has prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, allowing reported victims to seek institutional support and file a formal complaint,” UTEP officials said in a statement on July 14.  

“The pursuit for equity. The pursuit for justice. It’s part of what defines our country. We have the ability to pursue what is fair and what is right,” Núñez Mchuri said. 

Victoria Rivas may be reached at [email protected]; @VicRivas_18 on Twitter.