Biden Choose for Schooling Civil Rights Workplace Has Historical past With Racial Fairness, LGBTQ Points

President Joe Biden plans to appoint Catherine Lhamon as assistant secretary of civil rights in the US Department of Education, a role she previously held in the Obama administration.

The upcoming appointment of Lhamon, currently a White House advisor, signals plans for an aggressive civil rights boost from Biden’s education department. It will help guide efforts in areas such as racial justice, LGBTQ rights, schools’ response to sexual assault and harassment, and efforts to address systemic inequalities in schools.

In an interview with Education Week in 2017 after she left the Obama administration, Lhamon described the Trump administration’s approach to civil rights in education as “burdensome and dangerous.”

In her previous tenure in the department, she was responsible for creating two key civil rights guidelines: a policy that gave transgender students the right to access school facilities such as locker rooms and toilets that matched their gender identity; and another, which says schools may violate federal civil rights laws if they have significant racial differences in disciplinary rates.

Both guidelines have been repealed by the Trump administration, and Biden has announced that they will be reinstated.

Under Lhamon, the education department responded to civil rights complaints by examining school and district data to look for broader patterns of discrimination, rather than focusing solely on the incident in question. The Trump administration also turned away from this approach, calling it overreach.

“Unfortunately, in the past four years we have seen only obvious efforts to evade civil rights under the law,” Lhamon told Education Week in December.

Lhamon is currently a member of the White House Home Affairs Council. Previously, she was chair of the US Civil Rights Commission.

The candidate will be presented with a full agenda

If confirmed by the Senate, she will join the Education Department, which deals with several important civil rights issues.

The agency is working to revise and rewrite its guidelines for enforcing Title IX, the federal law prohibiting gender discrimination in schools. This work will touch on schools’ obligations to respond to reports of sexual assault and harassment and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

Education has also started investigations in some school districts to see if they have provided adequate care for students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona has emphasized racial justice concerns at a time of tense public debate over the issue.

“We are delighted that Catherine is serving as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights and we know she will continue to fight for fairness, justice and justice for all American students,” Cardona said in a statement Thursday when the government announced its intention to nominate you.

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