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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, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) students, from unlawful discrimination and harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age.

Bullying, harassment, exclusion from school activities, and other forms of discrimination can interfere with LGBTQ+ students’ access to a safe and inclusive school environment. Federal law, however, requires schools to ensure that LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ students and allies. Additional resources will be added as they are issued.

  • 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 LGBTQ+ students.
  • Fact Sheet on 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 Justice Department 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 16, 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 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’s Students (June 9, 2021)
    • This report discusses the disparate impacts COVID-19 has had on students, including some of the challenges LGBTQ+ 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’s 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 LGBTQ+ people:

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

Recent Federal Court Decisions on LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ students, but many federal appellate courts have addressed the rights of LGBTQ+ students:

Last Modified: 07/15/2021