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Resources for LGBTQI+ Students

The mission of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence through vigorous enforcement of civil rights in our nation's schools. To serve this mission, OCR enforces civil rights laws to protect all students from unlawful discrimination and harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age. This includes students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, asexual, intersex, nonbinary, and individuals who identify their sexual orientation or gender identity in other ways (LGBTQI+).

Bullying, harassment, exclusion from school activities, and other forms of discrimination can interfere with LGBTQI+ students’ access to a safe and inclusive school environment. Federal law, however, requires schools to ensure that LGBTQI+ students and other students have equal access to all aspects of a school’s programs and activities.

Filing a Complaint with OCR

Students who believe they have faced discrimination at school based on sexual orientation or gender identity or because they do not conform with sex stereotypes or for another reason may file a complaint with OCR. OCR carefully reviews allegations from anyone who files a complaint, including students who identify as male, female or nonbinary; transgender or cisgender; intersex; lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, heterosexual, or in other ways. When a complaint meets the requirements and standards set out in OCR’s Case Processing Manual, OCR will investigate and appropriately resolve the complaint.

Resources from the Department of Education

Below are OCR resources that may be of interest to LGBTQI+ students and allies. Additional resources will be added as they are issued.

  • Proposed Amendments to the Title IX Regulations (June 2022)
    • The U.S. Department of Education released for public comment its proposed amendments to the Department‚Äôs regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The proposed amendments reflect the Department‚Äôs continued commitment to ensuring that federally funded education programs and activities are free from all forms of sex discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The proposed amendments also reflect the Department‚Äôs continued commitment to secure equal opportunity, combat sexual harassment and sexual violence, and provide clear and fair procedures for students, educators, and others involved in America‚Äôs education system to address sex discrimination in schools and on campuses. In addition to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Department has released a fact sheet and a summary of the major provisions of the proposed amendments. The Department‚Äôs proposed Title IX regulations will be open for public comment for 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.
      • Read the Press Release
      • Unofficial version of the NPRM submitted to the Federal Register on June 23, 2022 PDF (2.7M)
      • Fact Sheet PDF (185K)
      • Summary of Major Provisions of the Department of Education‚Äôs Title IX Notice of Proposed Rulemaking PDF (273K)
  • Fact Sheet on Supporting Intersex Students (October 2021)
    • This fact sheet, provides information about how students, families, and educators can support intersex students, and includes information on what students can do if they experience discrimination at school.
  • Federal Government Back-to-School Address for Transgender Students (Aug. 17, 2021)
    • This video features Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Civil Rights Division, Department of Education Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Suzanne Goldberg, and Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine issuing a joint back-to-school message for transgender youth.
  • Supporting Transgender Youth in School (June 2021)
    • This fact sheet highlights ways schools can support transgender students and includes information on what a student can do if they experience discrimination at school.
  • Dear Educator Letter on 49th Anniversary of Title IX (June 23, 2021) 
    • This letter recognizes the 49th anniversary of the passage of Title IX and highlights the law’s impact on education and recent developments and resources, including with respect to LGBTQI+ students.
  • Confronting Anti-LGBTQI+ Harassment in Schools (June 23, 2021) 
    • This fact sheet explains that discrimination against students based on their sexual orientation or gender identity is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by federal law, provides examples of the kinds of incidents OCR and the U.S. Department of Justice can investigate, and includes information on what a student can do if they experience discrimination at school.
  • Notice of Interpretation - Enforcement of Title IX with Respect to Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Light of Bostock v. Clayton County (June 22, 2021)
    • This notice clarifies that Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Title IX Public Hearing (June 7-11, 2021)
    • This hearing invited students, educators, and other members of the public to provide comments, including on steps the Department of Education can take to address discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in educational environments.
  • Education in a Pandemic: The Disparate Impacts of COVID-19 on America‚Äôs Students (June 9, 2021)
    • This report discusses the disparate impacts COVID-19 has had on students, including some of the challenges LGBTQI+ students have faced both before and during the pandemic.
  • Letter to Students, Educators, and other Stakeholders re Executive Order 14021 (Apr. 6, 2021)
    • This letter describes the actions OCR is taking to review the Department of Education‚Äôs existing regulations and actions to ensure that students who have experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity have their legal rights fully met.

Resources from the White House

Resources from other Federal Agencies

Federal agencies in addition to the Department of Education have addressed how federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination apply to LGBTQI+ people:

Other federal agencies also have webpages with information and resources to support LGBTQI+ individuals:

Recent Federal Court Decisions on LGBTQI+ Rights

In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the landmark case of Bostock v. Clayton County. The case involved gay and transgender employees who had been fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Court held that this negative treatment of employees because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is discrimination based on sex and is unlawful under Title VII, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination by employers.

The Supreme Court has not ruled on how Title IX applies to LGBTQI+ students, but many federal appellate courts have addressed the rights of LGBTQI+ students:

Recent Court Filings

  • Adams v. School Board of St. John’s County ‚Äď Amicus Brief (11th Cir. November 26, 2021)
    • In this case, a transgender boy challenging his school’s refusal to permit him to use the boys’ restrooms. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief advising the court that the school board’s policy violated Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause.
  • Kluge v. Brownsburg Community School Corp. ‚Äď Amicus Brief (7th Cir. November 8, 2021)
    • In this case, a teacher challenged a school district’s refusal to permit him to refer to students using only their last names in order to avoid treating transgender students consistent with their gender identity. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief advising the court that the teacher’s proposed accommodation could cause undue hardship to the school because of harm to students harm and increased risk of Title IX liability.
  • B.P.J. v. West Virginia State Board of Education, et al. - Statement of Interest of the United States (S.D. W.V. June 22, 2021)
    • In this case, the plaintiff, an 11-year-old girl who is transgender, challenged a state law that prohibits girls who are transgender from participating on female athletic teams. The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest in the case advising the court that Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause prohibit discrimination against students because of their sex, including because a student is transgender. The district court granted the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction.

Last Modified: 06/23/2022