Student Activists, 30+ Organizations Defend Title IX Protections for All Students 

This past week, Students Engaged in Advancing Texas (SEAT) was joined by 30+ organizations, including Texas AFT, in sending an open letter to more than 1,000 superintendents of Texas public schools, urging them to uphold the legal protections promised by Title IX. The letter calls on superintendents “to clarify federal legal guidance, condemn Gov. Abbott’s active refusal to accept Title IX protections, and urge districts to uphold their duty to support and embrace all Texas students.” 

The letter comes after Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to ignore a Biden Administration rule that expanded Title IX protections to LGBTQIA+ Texans, an executive action that is consistent with the Supreme Court and federal judicial precedent. The new rules go into effect in August and are intended to stop discriminatory conduct based on sex stereotypes, pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation by expanding the definition of sex discrimination and sex-based harassment. On the same day that Abbott announced the order, chronically indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden Administration, seeking to block the Title IX changes. 

As SEAT’s open letter explains:  

Since its inception in 1972, Title IX has been a cornerstone of educational equity, designed to protect all students, not just cisgender girls and women, from discrimination based on sex. This federal law has played a crucial role in ensuring that every student, regardless of gender identity or expression, can pursue their education in a safe and inclusive environment.  

The new guidelines were updated in order to clarify, and thus fully effectuate, the existing protections under Title IX, ensuring that all students, including transgender and gender expansive individuals, are shielded from the very discrimination that school districts and our state as a whole have pushed with increasing frequency and scope in recent years. 

With these federal protections challenged by the state, it is critical that school districts step in to protect the civil rights of LGBTQIA+ students. Hate crimes against the LGBTQIA+ community have been surging in recent years, especially in states in which LGBTQIA+ identity and expression are restricted, like Texas. With this alarming uptick, the importance of protecting the civil rights of LGBTQIA+ Texans at the local level cannot be understated.