Part of our ethos as humanists is to treat each person as having inherent worth and dignity. We are concerned for the wellbeing of all, committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views.

But there is nothing humane about a handful of states suing the federal government so they can continue to systematically discriminate against LGBTQIA+ people in our federally funded schools and adjacent education programs. And there is nothing respectful about making it more difficult for survivors of sexual assault or harassment on college campuses to find justice.

I’m referring to the blowback about The U.S. Department of Education’s recently updated regulations around Title IX, which provide much-needed and vital protections against sex discrimination.

Title IX is a piece of legislation that has been around for more than fifty years and provides parameters for identifying, investigating and culling sex-based discrimination and sexual harassment in any education program or activity that receives federal funding.

When first passed in 1972, Title IX had a simple premise: “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 education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

That basic mandate of Title IX remains, but over the years—like many other pieces of legislation—its language, definitions, and provisions have been updated. Most times, this has strengthened Title IX, though this has not always been the case.

The final rules for Title IX that the Biden Administration released a few weeks ago provide clarity to encompass the realities of our educational institutions in 2024. They also reverse some of the more sinister provisions that were inserted in 2020. You can read a summary of the key provisions that were updated here.

In a late-April press release about Title IX, the Department of Education plainly outlines some of the changes they’ve addressed with this updated guidance.

“Protect against all sex-based harassment and discrimination,” to include protections “against discrimination based on sex stereotypes, sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics.”

That last part about stereotypes, sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics has lawmakers from a growing number of states on the offensive. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered Texas institutions to ignore the new guidance. Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed an executive order denouncing the updated guidelines, citing “the created order” in the Executive Order’s text.

So far, governors or heads of education departments in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgia, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota have denounced the expanded guidelines because of their protections for LGBTQIA+ students. At least six states have already filed lawsuits against the Department of Education, with that number expected to grow.

In denouncing the updated Title IX guidelines, some lawmakers are hiding behind the flimsy pretense of protecting women, while others, such as Gov. Sanders, are saying the quiet part out loud. In citing “the created order” in her recent Executive Order, Gov. Sanders makes no secret that Arkansas will use Christian nationalist ideology to justify its continued discrimination against LGBTQIA+ students.

This is an important issue for humanists because it is another example of lawmakers leveraging narrow religious interpretations to legislate discrimination and use the judicial system to denigrate LGBTQIA+ people. We’ve seen this with the spate of trans* bathroom ban bills, so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bills, and laws that restrict the participation of trans* athletes.

While it is yet to be seen how all of these lawsuits could play out and affect Title IX’s interpretation in the future, it is clear that we need to be doing more to advocate for and protect our LGBTQIA+ loved ones.

The post Title IX’s Updated Guidelines are a Humanist Issue. Here’s Why. appeared first on


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