Biden names LGBTQ authorized advocate to Schooling Division’s Workplace for Civil Rights

Suzanne Goldberg – Photo: Facebook.

President Biden has appointed Suzanne Goldberg, a prominent law professor specializing in sexuality and gender law, as assistant assistant secretary for strategic operations and outreach to the Department of Education’s Civil Rights Bureau.

Goldberg previously served as Executive Vice President of University Life at Columbia University, Clinical Professor of Law, and Founding Director of the Sexuality & Gender Law Clinic at Columbia Law School, and Co-Director of the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law. Before joining Columbia faculty in 2006, she was on the Rutgers-Newark Law School faculty and an associate faculty member at Fordham Law School. As of 2014, she also served as a Special Advisor on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response to Columbia President Lee Bollinger.

Goldberg began her legal career at Lambda Legal, where she worked on LGBTQ and HIV-related civil rights cases addressing immigration, workplace discrimination and family law. She also worked on two major LGBTQ rights cases, Lawrence v Texas, which laid down Texas law banning sodomy, and Romer v Evans, a case dealing with a voter-approved constitutional amendment in Colorado that increased the recognition of LGBTQ rights prohibited. Even while working in Columbia, she filed briefs on almost all equality cases in the United States.

Goldberg is temporarily on leave from her faculty position while working in Biden’s administration. In her new role, she will oversee operations and outreach aimed at preventing, identifying and eliminating discrimination against students in government-funded schools or universities.

In addition to handling complaints of alleged discrimination, the Department of Education’s Civil Rights Bureau also oversees the enforcement of Title IX, particularly regarding on-campus sexual assault – an issue that Goldberg addressed during her time in Columbia.

The Civil Rights Office came under scrutiny during the Trump administration and criticized by critics advocating sexual assault survivors for believing the accused were too lenient. The Civil Rights Office has also been criticized by LGBTQ advocates for not taking seriously complaints about discrimination against transgender students.

Under Betsy DeVos’ former Minister of Education, the department declined to recognize discrimination against transgender people as a form of gender discrimination. DeVos also announced that the department would no longer investigate allegations of transgender discrimination related to access to toilets or changing rooms. She later said the department would not change its transgender policy until Congress – particularly the courts, as has been done in three separate federal courts – specifically “clarifies” that the Title IX prohibition of discrimination applies to cases of discrimination against LGBTQ people applies.

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