As 2021 ended, the U.S. Department of Education announced that its upcoming proposals for changes to Title IX laws will be revealed in April of 2022 rather than in May as originally scheduled. In a statement issued on December 10, 2021, the department's Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Catherine E. Lhamon, announced that the delay was intended to demonstrate a commitment “to ensuring that schools are providing students with educational environments free from discrimination in the form of sexual harassment.”
What does this scheduling shift mean for colleges and universities that will be implementing the new policies? How will it affect the students who are on the receiving end of sex discrimination in their educational environment, and those administrators, instructors, and others who may face accusations of violating Title IX regulations? Let's take a closer look.
Title IX As Political Tug of War
Presidential administrations and other politicians have been playing tug of war with Title IX for some time now. President Obama issued directives lowering the bar of proof for survivors of sexual assault, sexual misconduct, or discrimination based on gender. Under Trump, however, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos tightened the restrictions right back up, citing due process violations and other concerns. The revised rule increased the burden of proof for plaintiffs, gave the accused parties more rights to defend themselves, and took the issue of off-campus assault and misconduct off the Title IX table.
For his part, President Biden made reversing these revisions a substantial selling point during his campaign—and on his very first day in office, signed the “Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation” to restore the rights of LGBTQ students under Title IX law.
A Complicated, Changeable Timeline
Although DeVos announced the withdrawal of Obama-era guidelines in 2017, the revised Title IX standards only went into effect in 2020. In March 2021, Biden issued another executive order, this one directing Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to suspend, revise or rescind DeVos's changes. Just a few months later, in June, Cardona announced that his department would use a week-long hearing to kick off a sweeping reform of the federal laws concerning sex- and gender-based discrimination in schools. At that time, the Biden administration set itself a deadline of May 2022 for releasing its revisions to Title IX mandates.
It's important to understand that finalizing these rules can take some time. Cardona and his colleagues have until February 2024 to implement the changes that are set to be unveiled in April. Given a relatively lengthy timeline surrounding the changes to guidelines for federally funded educational institutions, does a month make much difference?
No, says Brett Sokolow, president of the Association of Title IX Administrators. “One month in a two-year plus process is not a significant change,” he explains. Ultimately, there's not much else that educators, administrators, or other members of the general public can do to either slow down or speed up the pace of Title IX reform.
“[T]here are often delays that occur in the regulatory process down the road,” explains Sokolow, “and the Department [of Education] has the right to grant itself extensions.”
Upholding Student Rights, No Matter What
Regardless of what the current Title IX laws say or how future reform will affect colleges and universities, attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm stand strong with anyone accused of Title IX sexual misconduct, having helped hundreds of students nationwide defeat allegations of wrongdoing under Title IX.
Violations of Title IX, whether or not they are ultimately proven, have the potential to severely impact a student's college career and professional aspirations, not to mention the devastating consequences on their personal life and emotional well-being. That's why you should work with an experienced and dedicated attorney-advisor from the moment you learn of any accusations. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 today.