May 28, 2024 - News

Indiana tells schools to ignore LGBTQ+ protections

Illustration of the shadow of a no-sign on a pattern of Roman numeral IXes.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The U.S. Department of Education expanded protections for LGBTQ+ students under Title IX last month — but Indiana has told its schools to ignore the guidance.

Why it matters: Indiana is one of many states that passed legislation in recent years targeting the LGBTQ+ community, particularly children.

  • A 2023 law requires schools to alert parents if their child requests a change to their name or pronoun, which teachers fear could force them to out transgender students, and earlier legislation blocked transgender girls from participating in girls' school sports.

Driving the news: Indiana's Department of Education advised schools "not to change their existing policies" in a memo last month, as first reported by WFYI.

  • "IDOE is currently working with legal counsel to review these new regulations, which among other things expands the definition of "sex" in Title IX," the department said. "At initial review, these draft regulations will undoubtedly have major implications for Indiana schools and students and will likely be subject to legal challenges."

The fine print: The federal guidance adds protections against "discrimination based on sex stereotypes, sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics."

  • The deadline for schools to adopt the rules to remain compliant for federal funding is Aug. 1.

What they're saying: Kelley Robinson, president of the LGBTQ+ advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement that the new rule "makes it clear" that school districts are obligated "to protect students from discrimination."

The other side: Indiana is one of several Republican-led states suing the U.S. Department of Education over the guidance, saying it will have "radical ramifications."

What's next: The policy from the Biden administration does not address transgender athletes, and the federal DOE said its "rulemaking process is still ongoing for a Title IX regulation related to athletics."

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