Alabama School First To Be Investigated For Title IX Discrimination Under New LGBTQ Guidance

An Alabama school is undergoing a Title IX investigation by feds in the first of it's kind case under new federal LGBTQ+ guidance.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Title IX investigation

Title IX has protected students from discrimination for over five decades. But in the last few years, the federal government has moved to expand guidelines for how schools should be adhering to laws under the Education Amendment, as they may pertain to LGBTQ+ individuals. With that in mind, The Federal Office for Civil Rights is now administering its first ever Title IX investigation of a school based on sexual orientation discrimination under the newly proposed guidance.

According to a recent report from AL, the Civil Rights office is investigating a Shelby County school in Alabama. According to the case, the school discriminated against a student because of her sexual orientation. Little is known about the facts of this Title IX investigation so far, but what is known is that depending on how it plays out, it may have a huge impact on the longstanding discrimination law going forward.

The new Title IX investigation stems back to the 2020-2021 school year. According to obtained records for the case, a Shelby school employee acted in a homophobic manner against a female student because of her sexual orientation. The mother of this anonymous student stated that the school denied her placement in a certain program because she preferred dating girls and not guys. 

Despite the mother’s claims within the Title IX investigation, the school district is denying any discrimination. District superintendent Lewis Brooks asserted that all schools within serve students equally no matter what their sexual orientation may be. But given Alabama’s stance on LGBTQ+ matters, many fear that this may have not been the case, believing the family’s story instead.

The Alabama Department of Education has no distinct policies or initiatives in place to support or protect LGBTQ+ students, furthering the belief that this Title IX investigation may be warranted. What’s more, the southern conservative state is one of many that has swiftly passed legislation to prohibit more LGBTQ+ identifying students’ rights in education. The state bars transgender students from participating on sports teams based on the gender they identify with along with prohibiting them from accessing locker rooms and restrooms that don’t align with the sex they were assigned at birth. 

Additionally, Alabama is one of the 22 states that recently sued the Biden Administration over its new LGBTQ+ proposal which likely led to the urgency to open this new Title IX investigation. Stemming back to June, the administration laid out guidance that called for federal protection for students based on not just their sex, which is how the 1972 law codes discrimination of this form, but also for gender identity and sexual orientation. Now suing, these states argue that the new guidance conflicts with their state laws.

Title IX investigation

Despite the possible ambiguity of Title IX and the new LGBTQ+ guidance, the Federal Office of Civil Rights will go on with its Title IX investigation of the Shelby County school case. Depending on how things pan out, it could possibly set precedent for how similar discrimination cases regarding sexual orientation are handled at the school level. But for now, much of the interpretation of how Title IX applies to lgbtq+ individuals remains up in the air.