LGBTQ+ Family Discrimination in Schools: Title IX Comment Letter

Students with LGBTQ+ Parents

For more than 40 years, Family Equality has been fighting for lived and legal equality for LGBTQ+ families. In this work, we see how important it is that schools welcome and protect children with LGBTQ+ families. Not only do LGBTQ+ youth experience bullying and discrimination in educational institutions, but children with LGBTQ+ parents do also. In a 2008 report by GLSEN, in partnership with Family Equality and COLAGE, one in every four students with LGBTQ+ parents felt unsafe at school. Additionally, 40% reported verbal harassment at school based on their LGBTQ+ parents. 

Says one 11th grader, “In Spanish class, we were doing a project that involved describing our home and introducing our family. [My teacher] said it would be better for me to say I had a single mother and not mention her partner at all…I made a point of including my other mom, and I ended up failing the project.” 

An Increasing Need for Protections in Schools

Nearly 3.7 million children in the US have LGBTQ+ parents. 77% of LGBTQ+ millennials either are already parents or are considering expanding their families in the years ahead. Yet, we’re also seeing an increase in discrimination and hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people. Additionally, anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination continues in schools. It’s not a secret: We need to ensure that our children can learn and grow in educational environments that explicitly affirm them and their families. 

Family Equality is Taking Action

Of course, Family Equality’s commitment to lived and legal equality extends into schools across the country. That’s why this Pride month, we’re proud to lead 38 LGBTQ+, civil rights, and education organizations in submitting a comment letter to the U.S. Department of Education. The letter urges them to issue guidance explaining that federal law protects students with LGBTQ+ families from discrimination.

Specifically, the letter, which you can view here, asks the Department of Education to: 

  1. Clarify that discrimination against a student because a parent or family member is LGBTQ+ violates Title IX. 
  2. Clarify that the law requires educational institutions to protect students with LGBTQ+ families from discriminatory acts. 
  3. Recognize that harassment based on association with an LGBTQ+ family member is protected by the Title IX regulations on sexual harassment. 

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County that discrimination “on the basis of sex” includes discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. With this in mind, it’s clear that Title IX encompasses discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.

Should the Department of Education heed our request, children with LGBTQ+ parents will feel more comfortable reporting and seeking protections against discrimination and harassment. These steps are essential to ensuring that all students are free from sex discrimination. 

Continuing our work in the schools

From the Department of Education to your local school board, Family Equality is committed to creating welcoming, inclusive schools for LGBTQ+ youth and youth with LGBTQ+ families. In addition to our recent comment letter, we’ve developed resources for parent advocates and teachers alike. Click the links below to learn more.