A look at 11 years of Title IX policy

A look at 11 years of Title IX policy
  • April 2011

    The Education Department under former President Barack Obama issues a “Dear Colleague” letter outlining educational institutions’ obligation to protect students from sexual harassment and sexual violence under Title IX. The guidance states that even a single episode of sexual misconduct could constitute a hostile educational environment and potentially trigger colleges’ Title IX obligations.

    The 2011 guidance is widely considered to be a catalyst for increased national attention on campus sexual violence. It also became the subject of criticism from due process activists who argued the guidance put too much pressure on colleges to hold accused students responsible for sexual misconduct.

  • April 2014

    A Q&A document from the Education Department serves as a follow-up to the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter. It attempts to clarify the provisions of the 2011 guidance, including when the department considers an institution to have known about an episode of sexual misconduct, procedural requirements, and employees’ duties to report sexual violence.

  • May 2016

    The Education and Justice departments publish guidance detailing how Title IX protects transgender students. The agencies tell institutions they must use students’ pronouns that match their gender identity, even if other documents indicate a different sex. The guidance also states that schools must allow transgender students to use locker rooms and other facilities that align with their gender identity.

  • February 2017

    The Senate narrowly confirms Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, appointed by then-President Donald Trump. Later that same month, the Education Department rescinds the guidance on transgender student protections under Title IX.

  • September 2017

    DeVos withdraws the Obama administration’s 2011 guidance and the 2014 follow-up Q&A. The move garners sharp criticism from Democratic lawmakers and advocates for sexual assault prevention, and accolades from civil liberties activists.

    At the same time DeVos revokes the Obama-era guidelines, she issues interim guidance on how colleges must respond to sexual misconduct. This temporary guidance allows colleges flexibility on the evidentiary standard they use in evaluating sexual misconduct cases and also permits them to use informal resolutions, such as mediation, to resolve them.

  • November 2018

    The Education Department under DeVos releases its draft rule on Title IX. It contains contentious provisions, notably that colleges should hold a live hearing to adjudicate sexual misconduct cases. During those hearings, accused students and their accusers must be allowed to cross-examine each other through an adviser, the proposal states. The department invites public comment on the draft regulation.

  • May 2020

    Having reviewed more than 120,000 comments on the proposed rule, the department publishes the final iteration of the regulation. The vast majority of the comments opposed the rule, but it largely preserves the draft DeVos had proffered a year and a half prior.

  • August 2020

    DeVos’ rule takes effect. Higher education groups, led by the American Council on Education, had pleaded for the secretary to delay implementation of the rule in light of the coronavirus pandemic, a call DeVos did not heed.

  • January 2021

    President Joe Biden takes office. Immediately, he issues an executive order stating everyone should receive equal treatment under federal law, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. His order cites Title IX.

  • March 2021

    Biden signs an executive order that in part directs the Education Department to evaluate the Trump administration’s Title IX rule, which as a candidate he had pledged to undo.

  • June 2021

    The Biden administration formally announces it will replace the DeVos rule with its own regulation. The same month, the Education Department said it interpreted Title IX to protect students based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The department’s decision was rooted in a 2020 Supreme Court ruling — Bostock v. Clayton County — that established those protections in federal employment law.

  • December 2021

    The Education Department announces it plans to release its proposed Title IX rule in April 2022, moving the date up from an initial publishing schedule of May. This displeases sexual assault prevention advocates, some of whom had called for a quicker timeline.

  • April 2022

    The department says it will delay the draft Title IX rule until May 2022, not April.

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