On May 17, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that public hearings on the Title IX final rule defining sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination will be held virtually June 7-11, 2021. Students, educators and others with interest and expertise in Title IX will be able to participate by offering oral comments and written submissions. Registration to provide comments is now open; expect time slots to fill up quickly.
Although individuals may submit comments about any aspect of Title IX, OCR has a particular interest in receiving comments on the Title IX final rule regarding sexual harassment and on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in educational environments.
The public hearings are in response to Executive Order 14021 on Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free From Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity, directing the U.S. Secretary of Education to review and determine whether to suspend, revise or rescind the Title IX final rule, defining sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination. President Biden issued the order March 8, 2021. OCR issued a letter on April 6, 2021, announcing that it would hold a public hearing related to Title IX.
Each individual may register to provide one live comment for up to three minutes. The registration process allows each commenter to indicate the topic of the live comment and to request a specific two-hour window on a particular day to present the live comment. OCR encourages students to register to provide live comments June 8-9, when more slots will be allocated for students. Accordingly, educators and others with interest and expertise in Title IX should register to provide live comments on June 7 or June 10-11. The virtual hearings will be held on the following days:
- June 7, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET)
- June 8, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET)
- June 9, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (ET)
- June 10, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (ET)
- June 11, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET)
Individuals may attend the virtual hearing to listen to comments from others. Written comments may be submitted via email to T9PublicHearing@ed.gov until 5 p.m. (ET) on June 11, 2021, using the subject line “Written Comment: Title IX Public Hearing (topic of the comment).” The email may include the name, occupation, city and state, organization/affiliation (if any), and email address of the person(s) submitting the written comment, along with the comment. Those who wish to maintain their privacy may submit comments without personally identifiable information.
OCR anticipates issuing a question-and-answer document “to provide additional clarity about how OCR interprets schools’ existing obligations” under the Title IX final rule. OCR also anticipates publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend the rule.
McGuireWoods LLP and McGuireWoods Consulting are well-positioned to help clients prepare live or written comments. Please contact Farnaz Thompson, Craig Wood, Laura Fornash or Scott Frein for more information.