Title IX includes LGBQT

A new policy was added to a previous law to bring equality

Morgan Stough, Staff Writer

Wayne State College officials are carefully watching a federal lawsuit in Texas about transgender students.
The lawsuit seeks to curb the Obama administration’s push to accommodate transgender students in a more equal fashion, per the Title IX policies.

Title IX, a 1972 law, states that no one on the basis of sex, gender identity or orientation should be excluded from or discriminated against in any activity. In 2011, a letter from the Department of Justice titled “Dear Colleague” pushed campuses to have a greater focus on Title IX in regards to sexual assault, harassment and students who do not conform to the “traditional” gender binary.

The issue states that schools must be safe and nurturing environments for all students, including transgender. Texas v. United States seeks to preserve the public school system’s ability to deny equal access to transgendered students. The Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel, Matt Sharp, claims that this lawsuit “stops the Obama Administration from forcing schools to allow boys into girl’ locker rooms, showers and restrooms.”

While this particular lawsuit addresses elementary and high schools, Wayne State College’s ever-growing focus on enforcing Title IX brings these issues to the forefront of campus discussion.

Wayne State’s Title IX Coordinator, Matthew Weekley, said that the Title IX policy followed on this campus specifically includes protections for students with non-traditional gender identity.

“Even though these cases address elementary and secondary education, it is impacting college campuses,” Weekley said.

An example he gave is the transgender bathroom laws recently passed in North Carolina. The University of North Carolina is directly impacted by these laws because the Department of Education would cite following the state laws as a Title IX violation, and the university would be subject to losing federal sponsorship.

Weekley also gave insight as to the direction Wayne State is heading with its Title IX compliance policy.

“As our culture evolves, we expand our thinking,” he said. “What we’re ultimately facing today in 2016 is asking what does sex really mean, what does gender really mean?”

Weekley said that gender is no longer black and white, and that campuses need to evolve along with such changes.

“The world is evolving, and we are faced with more questions than answers right now. Look at the Supreme Court ruling allowing for same-sex marriage,” Weekley said. “That decision has provided clarity.”

As for what he wants the student body to know, Weekley highlighted Title IX’s core values: treating people with dignity and the preservation of the rights of all.

“We want everyone at Wayne State College to have equal access,” said Weekley. “We’re going to do what we reasonably can do to provide all students with equal access.”