Secretary Cardona's Remarks on the U.S. Department of Education’s Release of Proposed Amendments to Title IX

June 23, 2022

Good morning.

Throughout American history, landmark laws have brought waves of change that carried our country toward a more perfect union.

Before the Fair Labor Standards Act, many children didn't spend their days learning in schools, but working in factories.

Before the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Black Americans had no federal statutory protection from the racial discrimination of the Jim Crow era.

And before Title IX, women and girls were denied equal access to education, and the opportunities that come from it.

Many elite universities and colleges used quotas to deny women admission, and virtually all athletic scholarships went to men.

The enactment of Title IX was a watershed moment.

Those words … "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance" Those words set the stage for a sea change of progress.

As astronaut Mary Cleave once said, "Title IX passed, and within 10 years I was getting hired to work in a space shuttle. … Title IX blew the lid off of so many occupations for women."

In the 50th year of this law, Title IX remains essential.

Today, women earn over half of all college degrees and PhDs, but gender disparities still persist in STEM fields.

Sexual harassment and assault still occur on our college campuses.

Inequities in women's college athletics still exist.

And some states are passing laws targeting LGBTQ students.

So, even as we celebrate all the progress we've achieved, standing up for equal access and inclusion is as important as ever.

Today, we're here to talk about how the Department of Education is inviting public comment on a new series of regulations proposed under Title IX.

Our goal was to give full effect to the law's reach, and to deliver on its promise to protect all students from sex-based harassment and discrimination.

Let's be clear: Every student has something to offer our country.

Every student deserves to learn, free from discrimination and harassment, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

These proposals were not developed overnight.

This process began over a year ago, when President Biden's executive orders on combating sex discrimination—including sexual orientation and gender identity—directed my Department to review current Title IX rules.

From day one, we prioritized public input.

We hosted the first-ever nationwide, virtual public hearing in June 2021.

We heard from students and teachers. … We heard from parents and caregivers. … Elected officials and higher education leaders. … Athletes and advocates. … Sexual assault survivors, as well as those accused.

We listened to stakeholders about where the 2020 regulations went wrong—and what they did right.

We sought to align our Title IX regulations with the Supreme Court's decision in Bostock v. Clayton County ... which held that it's "impossible to discriminate against a person" because of their sexual orientation or gender identity "without discriminating against that individual based on sex."

It's the Department of Education's responsibility to ensure ALL our students can learn, grow, and thrive in school – no matter where they live, who they are, whom they love, or how they identify. Our proposed changes would:

Fully protect students from all forms of sex discrimination, instead of limiting some protections to sexual harassment alone … and make clear those protections include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

These changes also would protect the rights of parents and guardians in their children's primary and secondary education. …

Protect pregnant students and employees from discrimination. …

And protect victims of sexual assault, while ensuring schools provide a fair process for all parties involved....

The Department recognizes that standards for students participating on male and female athletic teams are evolving in real time.

That's why we've decided to do a separate rulemaking on how schools may determine eligibility, while upholding Title IX's nondiscrimination guarantee.

Input from students, parents, educators and other stakeholders will continue to be at the heart of this process.

I reject efforts to politicize these protections, and sow division in our schools.

Everyone should agree that ALL children and youth deserve an education grounded in fairness, understanding, and belonging.

This is personal to me, as an educator and a father.

I want the same opportunities afforded to my daughter, and my son, and my transgender cousin, so they can achieve their potential and reach their dreams.

I consider it a blessing to serve as Secretary of Education at this moment.

Together, we must seize this opportunity to better protect LGBTQ youth who face bullying and harassment, experience higher rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide, and too often grow up feeling they don't belong.

Today we send a loud message to those students, and all our students. …

You belong in our schools. …

You have worthy dreams and incredible talents. …

You deserve the opportunity to shine, authentically and unapologetically.

The Biden-Harris administration has your back.

Thank you.