ATIXA Legislative Policy Corner

Federal:

Senate confirms Catherine Lhamon as the US Department of Education’s assistant secretary for civil rights according to Higher Ed Dive

Catherine Lhamon, who led the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights during the Obama Administration, will serve in the same role after the Senate narrowly confirmed her in a 51-50 party-line vote. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the deciding vote. Miguel Cardona issued a statement saying, “With this confirmation, our nation has once again gained a champion who will work each day to ensure that our public schools and institutions of higher education become ever fairer and more just. I am thrilled that Catherine will reprise her role at the U.S. Department of Education as Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights. In this role, she will lead the Department’s vital efforts to ensure our schools and college campuses are free from discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and disability and to protect all students’ civil rights in education. Catherine is one of the strongest civil rights leaders in America and has a robust record of fighting for communities that are historically and presently underserved. Catherine will continue fighting for fairness, equity, and justice for all of America’s students, and I cannot wait for her to join the team.”

State:

Pennsylvania college sexual violence focus of governor’s legislative package according to Higher Ed Dive

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is proposing a legislative package designed to curb sexual violence at the state’s colleges. The plan consists of four bills. One would require all institutions, public and private, to enact policies outlining what acts are considered consensual and how to obtain consent, which is commonly referred to as a “yes means yes” law. Another would direct schools to provide sexual assault survivors with certain accommodations or protective measures if students requested them. The other two bills would mandate sexual violence awareness instruction at middle and high schools and create a task force to study sexual misconduct, domestic violence, and dating violence at colleges and in grades 6 through 12.

Other:

K-12 transgender students and school sports debate continues, reports Education Week

Debates over transgender student rights, once centered largely on restrooms and pronouns, have taken on a new focus in the last two years: whether transgender students can play on sports teams that align with their gender identity. As the Biden Administration asserts that transgender students’ access to single-sex sports teams is protected by federal law, states have taken up dozens of bills seeking to restrict access according to “sex at birth.”