10 Sep 23


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Last Updated on: 19th September 2023, 07:18 pm

Title IX Protections for Transgender Students

Background on Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities. Although Title IX does not explicitly mention gender identity, courts and federal agencies have interpreted its prohibition on sex discrimination to include discrimination based on gender identity and transgender status.In the 2020 Bostock v. Clayton County case, the Supreme Court ruled that discrimination based on gender identity constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII. Lower courts have applied this reasoning to Title IX as well.

Key Protections for Transgender Students

Under current interpretations, Title IX provides several key protections for transgender students:


Schools must use a transgender student’s preferred name and pronouns and update records accordingly. Refusing to do so may be harassment or discrimination under Title IX.

Restrooms/Locker Rooms

Transgender students must be allowed to use facilities consistent with their gender identity. Schools cannot force them to use separate restrooms.


Transgender students have a right to participate in sports aligning with their gender identity. Blanket bans on transgender athletes likely violate Title IX.

Dress Codes

Students cannot be disciplined for dressing consistently with their gender identity or forced to dress according to sex assigned at birth.


Schools must provide transgender students housing consistent with their gender identity, not based on sex assigned at birth.

Ongoing Legal and Political Debates

Despite these protections, disputes continue over Title IX and transgender students:

  • Some faith-based schools have sought religious exemptions from accommodating transgender students.
  • State “bathroom bills” restrict access to restrooms aligned with gender identity.
  • State laws banning transgender girls from girls’ sports clash with Title IX guidance.
  • Advocates pressure the Biden administration to repeal Trump-era Title IX rules seen as harmful to transgender students.
  • Federal legislation has been introduced both to codify and limit Title IX protections for transgender students.

Key Considerations for Attorneys

When advising transgender clients on Title IX, attorneys should consider:

  • Varying court approaches across federal circuits
  • Shifting agency guidance between administrations
  • Potential conflicts between state and federal law
  • Unsettled scope of religious exemptions
  • Evolving standards for remedies
  • Settlement options like resolution agreements
  • Client’s priorities and goals
  • Strategic public relations


Title IX remains a complex, evolving area of law regarding transgender students. By staying informed on legal and policy developments, attorneys can effectively advocate for clients’ rights under Title IX.

Key Title IX Considerations for Lawyers

Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments bans sex discrimination in federally funded education programs. Over time, Title IX has become complex, with wide implications for schools, students, and families. Lawyers advising Title IX clients must understand the key issues that often arise.This article overviews major Title IX topics and debates, focusing on recent legal and policy changes. It covers sexual harassment, athletics, transgender students, due process, and more. It also addresses practical considerations for lawyers handling Title IX cases.

Title IX Basics

At its core, Title IX bars sex discrimination against students and employees in federally funded education programs and activities. This includes around 16,500 school districtsover 7,000 colleges, plus charter schools, libraries, and museums. It applies to all aspects of education, not just sports.The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces Title IX. Remedies for violations include stopping federal funds, court-ordered changes, and money damages.

Sexual Harassment and Assault

Title IX is a key tool for addressing campus sexual harassment and violence. Under 2001 Guidance, schools are liable if they are deliberately indifferent to known harassment. They must take prompt, equitable action to end and prevent recurrence of harassment.Key issues include:

  • Jurisdiction over off-campus misconduct
  • Standard of proof in discipline cases
  • Rights of accused students
  • Confidentiality of complaints
  • Retaliation prohibitions

Lawyers must know evolving OCR policies, court cases, and state laws affecting schools’ harassment obligations. Nuanced understanding is vital for advising schools on compliance and representing students in lawsuits.

Athletics Equity

Title IX has expanded opportunities for girls and women in sports. Under the Three-Part Test, schools must provide sports participation chances proportionate to enrollment, show ongoing expansion of opportunities, or fully meet female students‘ interests and abilities. Many schools still fail this test.Key legal issues include:

  • Cuts to men’s teams
  • Three-Part Test compliance
  • Equal treatment of facilities and equipment
  • Retaliation against coaches or athletes
  • Transgender athlete participation

Fluency with Title IX’s athletics rules is vital when advising colleges or representing students challenging unequal sports programs.

Transgender Student Rights

With growing transgender student visibility have come questions about their Title IX rights. Although Title IX does not expressly cover gender identity, courts and federal guidance have found anti-transgender discrimination to be sex discrimination under Title IX.Key issues include:

  • Restroom and locker room access
  • Names/pronouns use
  • Dress codes and grooming policies
  • Gender-segregated activities
  • Sports participation

Despite protections, disputes continue over accommodating transgender students. Lawyers must follow this rapidly changing area.

Due Process Concerns

Many schools adopted procedures seen as unfairly disadvantaging accused students, in response to OCR guidance on sexual misconduct cases. Critics argue overly broad harassment definitions, low evidence standards, and lack of accused student protections violate due process and Title IX.Key issues include:

  • Notice of allegations
  • Access to evidence
  • Right to cross-examination
  • Right to counsel
  • Presumption of innocence

Representing accused students requires knowing schools‘ duties to provide fair, impartial Title IX proceedings.

Title IX Exemptions

Certain institutions are exempt from Title IX:

  • Religiously-controlled schools (if Title IX conflicts with religious tenets)
  • Military schools
  • Single-sex schools (admissions only)
  • Boy/Girl conferences like Boys/Girls State
  • Father-son/mother-daughter activities
  • Sex-based scholarships

The scope of these exemptions is legally uncertain. Lawyers must understand exemptions when advising exempt schools or challenging allegedly discriminatory policies.

Title IX Retaliation

Title IX prohibits retaliation against anyone complaining of sex discrimination. Students, parents, employees, and others engaging in protected activity are shielded from retaliation under Title IX. Lawyers must recognize legitimate retaliation claims as distinct from personal disputes.With Title IX interpretations and policies frequently changing, lawyers must stay current to effectively advise clients. While complex, Title IX provides vital protections from sex discrimination in education. Lawyers serve crucial roles in securing those protections.