Attorney General Platkin Co-Leads National Effort to Defend Title IX’s Protections for Students

New Jersey, Multistate Coalition File Briefs in Six Lawsuits Attempting to Halt Education Department’s Final Rule Protecting Students from Sex-Based Discrimination

For Immediate Release: June 25, 2024

Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Division on Civil Rights
– Sundeep Iyer, Director
Division of Law
Michael T.G. Long, Director

For Further Information:

Media Inquiries-
Allison Inserro, OAGpress@njoag.gov

Amicus Briefs:

Alabama v. Cardona | Louisiana v. Cardona | Texas v. U.S. Department of Education
Kansas v. U.S. Department of Education | Arkansas v. U.S. Department of Education
Carroll Independent School District v. U.S. Department of Education

TRENTON – Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced that New Jersey, California, and Pennsylvania have filed another set of amicus briefs in federal courts across the country this month to defend Title IX’s protections of students from sex-based discrimination and harassment in education.

Attorney General Platkin, the Division on Civil Rights (DCR), and their state partners are seeking to protect the rights of students in schools and colleges nationwide from yet another set of federal court challenges to the U.S. Department of Education’s Final Rule, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance, which explicitly protects transgender students from sex discrimination and harassment based on gender identity and which reverses the prior administration’s 2020 Rule that rolled back Title IX’s sexual harassment protections for all students. As part of its ongoing efforts to protect students from discrimination, New Jersey co-led amicus briefs filed in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas this month.

Within days of the Final Rule’s release, certain states sued the U.S. Department of Education to block the implementation of the Final Rule and return to insufficient 2020 standards, which narrowed the scope of Title IX’s protections for students, and which were themselves the subject of lawsuits from New Jersey and other states. The Final Rule rectifies the harm caused by the prior administration’s actions. The narrow interpretation of Title IX advanced by the states challenging the Final Rule is not supported by law or by the U.S. Department of Education’s longstanding policy and practice.

Since 2020, New Jersey, California, and Pennsylvania have led litigation against the prior administration’s efforts to weaken Title IX by making students more vulnerable to sexual assault and sexual harassment, including submission of a comment letter in support of the U.S. Department of Education in 2022 when it moved to reverse the prior administration’s 2020 changes. Last month, they also filed the first of several amicus briefs to defend the implementation of the Title IX Final Rule.

“We will keep fighting to protect gender-diverse students, who suffer worse health and educational outcomes when they are not supported in schools, and against sex-based discrimination in all its forms,” said Attorney General Platkin. “Fair and nondiscriminatory treatment of all students leads to better outcomes, including reduced suicidal ideations, fewer suicide attempts, and enhanced well-being and functioning. It is astonishing to me that this is still a matter of debate among certain states.”

“It is more important than ever that we continue our work to prevent sex-based discrimination, protect students from sexual harassment, and ensure equal access to educational opportunity for all students,” said Sundeep Iyer, Director of the Division on Civil Rights. “Discrimination and exclusion based on sex can cause enormous harm to students and their communities, and we will continue to stand up for the rights of these students in court.”

The amicus briefs aim to protect the students’ right to equal education opportunities free from gender-based harassment or sex discrimination in the states seeking to block implementation of the Final Rule. Six briefs were filed in support of students in the following jurisdictions:

  • In the Northern District of Alabama, for students in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina;
  • In the Western District of Louisiana, for students in Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, and Idaho;
  • In the District of Kansas, for students in Kansas;
  • In the Eastern District of Missouri, St. Louis Division, for students in Arkansas;
  • In the Northern District of Texas, for students in Texas; and
  • In the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, for students in the Carroll Independent School District.

The briefs share the experiences of the amici states where students have the full protection of Title IX. The briefs argue:

  • The Final Rule extends protections to gender-diverse youth, and provides broad, significant benefits to LGBTQ+ students nationwide, without compromising student privacy or safety, and without imposing substantial costs to schools.
  • The definition of sex-based harassment as conduct that “is so severe or pervasive that it limits or denies a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the recipient’s education program or activity” aligns with the text of Title IX and better enables stakeholders to prohibit harassment and redress hostile environments.
  • The Final Rule does not violate the Spending Clause of the Constitution. The Final Rule does not require states to create new programs; it merely requires that they refrain from discriminating against students on the basis of sex, and fix any discrimination they may find, in return for accepting federal funding.

A return to 2020’s regulatory efforts to narrow Title IX would impose significant costs on local and state governments when students experience increased or uncorrected incidents of sexual harassment, including financial, health, and societal costs, increased absenteeism, lost revenue from dropouts, and unemployment and health service costs.

All six amicus briefs were led by Attorney General Platkin, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, and Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry. They were joined by the Attorneys General of Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Section Chief Andrew Yang and Deputy Attorneys General Amanda Morejón, Giancarlo Piccinini, and Lauren Van Driesen, under the supervision of Section Chief Jessica Palmer and Assistant Attorney General David Leit, of the Special Litigation Section within the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group.

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DCR is the state agency responsible for preventing and eliminating discrimination and bias-based harassment in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation (e.g., places open to the public like schools, businesses, hospitals, etc.). DCR enforces the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), the New Jersey Family Leave Act, and the Fair Chance in Housing Act (FCHA).

DCR has developed various fact sheets about the LAD’s protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression in housingemployment, and places open to the public. To find out more information, visit www.njoag.gov/about/divisions-and-offices/division-on-civil-rights-home/.

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