Now What? OCR Just Delayed Two Major Title IX Rules… Here’s Your Gameplan

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced today that two major amendments to the regulations implementing Title IX will not be finalized until October 2023 at the earliest. The Title IX grievance procedure rule, which was proposed on June 23, 2022, would dramatically alter the process that schools, colleges, and universities must use for sexual harassment and other sex discrimination complaints under Title IX. The Title IX gender identity and athletics rule, proposed on April 6, 2023, would implement a new test for schools that wish to limit student participation in athletics based on gender identity. The result of today’s announcement is that the sexual harassment grievance procedure requirements implemented under the Trump administration in 2020 will remain in effect for at least the first semester of the 2023 academic year. Moreover, uncertainty will remain with respect to OCR’s enforcement of Title IX against schools that limit the participation of transgender students in athletics.

As recently as January of this year, OCR doubled down on its claim that it would finalize its proposed changes to the Trump-era Title IX sexual harassment requirements in May or June 2023. Our T&H team has been pointing out all along that such a deadline was ambitious. As we explained, “it took the Trump administration 18 months to review the 124,000 or so comments received to their proposed rule. The Biden administration’s rule received over 235,000 comments, and their self-imposed May deadline gives them only eight months to review those comments, respond to them, and finalize the rule.” Unofficial sources also claimed after the comment period to the athletics rule ended on May 15, 2023, that the Department would issue its final athletics rule at the same time as the grievance procedure rule. The Department received over 150,000 comments to the athletics proposal, adding to its already full plate and making a May implementation deadline even more unlikely.

Now that OCR has acknowledged that neither rule will be out any time soon, what should you do? Although the delay will certainly take off some pressure for Title IX administrators over the summer, the best approach is to use the newfound time to get prepared for the rules when they do come. Implementing new rules in October when school is in full swing will be an even bigger challenge than a summer implementation. If you aren’t sure what to do to best prepare your institution for the changes to come, join us on Thursday, June 1, 2023 at 1 p.m. Central for a complimentary webinar. We will discuss the current status of the rules and provide you a practical gameplan for what to do next. Submit your questions when you register here.