The Department of Education just announced that Title IX protects transgender student athletes

The past three presidential administrations have been a game of ping-pong for LBGTQ+ students' rights. During his term as president, Trump rescinded Obama-era protections for transgender students, and now the Biden administration is undoing that Trump-era guidance.

An announcement from the U.S. Department of Education today clarified that transgender and gay students are protected from discrimination under Title IX.

"Today, the Department makes clear that all students — including LGBTQ+ students —deserve the opportunity to learn and thrive in schools that are free from discrimination," Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

"The Supreme Court has upheld the right for LGBTQ+ people to live and work without fear of harassment, exclusion, and discrimination – and our LGBTQ+ students have the same rights and deserve the same protections."


Last year, the Trump administration threatened to withhold federal funding from schools that allowed transgender students to compete in sports according to their gender identity, arguing that state laws that allowed their participation were discriminatory against cisgender students.

The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued a 13-page Notice of Interpretation explaining the guidance.

"OCR has long recognized that Title IX protects all students, including students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, from harassment and other forms of sex discrimination," it reads. "OCR also has long recognized that Title IX prohibits harassment and other forms of discrimination against all students for not conforming to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity. But OCR at times has stated that Title IX's prohibition on sex discrimination does not encompass discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. To ensure clarity, the Department issues this Notice of Interpretation addressing Title IX's coverage of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in light of the Supreme Court decision discussed below."

The Supreme Court decision in question is the 2020 Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia decision, in which the Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees against discrimination because they are gay or transgender. That decision determined that discriminating against someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity was ultimately discriminating against them "on the basis of sex," which is a violation of the Civil Rights Act.

The back-and-forth interpretations of Title IX have understandably been a source of consternation for families of LGBTQ+ students. The Equality Act would create a more solid legal backing to anti-discrimination policy, explicitly protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and enshrining those protections into law. That bill has been passed in the U.S. House of Representatives but has yet to be taken up by the Senate. The bill would require 60 votes in the Senate to pass, and it's been unclear whether it would receive that much support.

In the meantime, having this Title IX guidance from the current administration will give LGBTQ+ students some peace of mind that their rights are acknowledged and protected in schools—at least for the next few years.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

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Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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