GV official: Proposed Title IX reforms are needed, but far from realization


GVL / Bethann Long

Zoë Murphy, Staff Writer

Following a proposed set of changes to the anti-discrimination law known as Title IX, a Grand Valley State University official is cautioning the community that while the university could benefit from its expanded protections, such amendments may be far from implementation.

On June 23, the 50th anniversary of the law’s passage, the U.S Department of Education proposed that changes be made to its regulations that, when passed, intend to prevent discrimination on the basis of sex in a variety of arenas in the United States including within the education system.

“The proposed amendments will restore crucial protections for students who are victims of sexual harassment, assault and sex-based discrimination – a critical safety net for survivors that was weakened under previous regulations,” the Department said in a press release. “The proposed regulations will advance educational equity and opportunity for women and girls across the country to ensure that every student in America, from kindergarten through a doctorate degree, can achieve her dreams.”

Though Title IX has been a main proponent in the advocation of female athletes and their sports, its full scope is more expansive than only that which pertains to athletics.

According to Kevin Carmody, GVSU’s Director of the Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX Coordinator, Title IX can be defined as an educational amendment designed to protect individuals from any type of discrimination due to sex.

In recent years, the legal implications and range of the word “sex” have changed dramatically to include new protected categories – including those who identify as members of the LGBTQ community.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County (2020) contributed heavily to this shift when the Court ruled discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity was intertwined with and constituted discrimination on the basis of sex.

In its statement, the Department of Education made several references to such expansion and included LGBTQ-inclusive language when laying out the new proposed Title IX protections.

“(The new regulations) will strengthen protections for LGBTQI+ students who face discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” the Department said. “They will require that school procedures for complaints of sex discrimination, including sexual violence and other sex-based harassment, are fair to all involved.”

The proposed amendments would modernize Title IX to follow suit with new interpretations which, Carmody said, would expand what he believes to be essential rights.

“It’s broader,” Carmody said. “Individuals have to be free from discrimination. That’s something that’s enshrined in (Title IX).”

However, change doesn’t happen overnight.

Some may believe that once alterations are proposed and approved, that is the extent of the process. According to Carmody, such is far from the reality of the situation.

“We’re a year away from these things,” Carmody said. “This is a long, drawn-out process. This is going through the formal rulemaking so that it would have to shrink the law right behind so that it’s going to be right.”

When it comes to the GVSU community, Carmody said that the proposal of the new regulations will bring to campus a much-needed conversation about the law and the discrimination it protects against.

“The biggest thing I’m hoping for and have seen in recent years is a lot more attention,” Carmody said.

Alongside the staff of the Title IX Office, Carmody said he hopes that as he and others wait for these changes to come to fruition, GVSU will continue to dedicate resources to those in need of a voice and in need of change.

“The other piece is to know that GVSU’s Title IX Office is committed to responding and dealing with those that need help,” Carmody said.