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U.S. Department of Education extends protections to transgender students

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File photo.(Credit: Getty Images/iStock Photo)
Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 2:30 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The U.S. Department of Education has expanded Title IX protections to include discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The move reverses Trump-era policy and stands against proposals in many states to bar transgender girls from school sports.

In a policy directive, the department said discrimination based on a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity will be treated as a violation of federal sex discrimination law. The decision is based on last year’s Supreme Court ruling protecting gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said students “have the same rights and deserve the same protections” as workers.

The Department of Education’s order comes as several states, including South Dakota, moved to limit transgender participation in sports.

Back in March, Gov. Kristi Noem signed two executive orders banning transgender women from competing in South Dakota sports programs. Noem signed the order after a bill limiting transgender participation in sports died in the legislature following a number of requested revisions from the governor’s office. Noem also launched a coalition called “Defend Title IX,” which she said was part of a broader effort to take on the issue at a national level.

Noem’s spokesperson Ian Fury issued the following statement to regarding the Department of Education’s announcement:

“Governor Noem will continue to defend Title IX from this outrageous overreach by the US Department of Education. As the Governor has long said, only girls should play girls’ sports. Title IX was passed to protect fairness for women. The federal government should enforce Title IX in a way that protects fairness for women’s sports, rather than misusing it in a way that undermines fairness.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.