Enacted as a federal regulation under the Education Amendments Act in 1972, Title IX is a law that protects from sexual discrimination within federally funded institutions: public and private universities/colleges, or K-12 school districts that receive federal funding. Title IX states:
"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
Under Title IX, both men and women have rights to an equal and fair education without exclusion because of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual violence. Under Title IX, schools and institutions also face regulations on how they handle instances of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual violence--if a school does not follow these regulations, they are in violation of Title IX and students' rights, and can lose federal funding because of it--these regulations are outlined below:
Notices of Nondiscrimination: Schools are required to distribute/provide notices of Title IX and nondiscrimination based on gender or sexual violence to students. The school does not have to directly reference sexual violence or sexual harassment in the notice of nondiscrimination, but should do so; if the notice of nondiscrimination makes it unclear or implies that sexual violence/harassment is not included under the regulation--the school is in violation of Title IX.
For K-12 schools, the notice of nondiscrimination would typically be found on the school website or in the student handbook. For colleges/universities, these notices of nondiscrimination may be on the institution's website or within the annual security reports.
Title IX Coordinators: Schools are required to have a Title IX coordinator that is accessible to the students and faculty; their name and contact information may be included in the nondiscrimination notice, and may also be accessed on the school/institution's website, or a college/universities annual security reports. Though the Title IX coordinator can concurrently hold another position at the institution, it must not cause a conflict-of-interest in Title IX investigations (the Title IX Coordinator cannot also be the chairman of the disciplinary committee).
Grievance Procedures: Schools are required to have and publish a direct, clear, and accessible grievance procedure for reporting gender discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual violence within the institution. The grievance procedures should include:
Filing of a complaint (procedure)
The grievance procedures should be fair for all parties involved: the accusing, the accused, or any third parties. In addition to these grievance procedures, the school should make effort to resolve any hostile/inequitable learning environment as a result of the gender discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual violence; if a victim of sexual violence has a class with the accused offender, the school should make accommodations to prevent a hostile environment for either party. The resolution of any complaint at an institution can be regulated by the school, but cannot require mediation between the victim and the accused offender as the only means of resolution. If an institution attempts to require mediation as a resolution in its grievance procedures, the institution is in violation of Title IX.
Employee Training: Schools are required to provide proper training to teachers, counselors, administrators, or other employees that may address sexual violence or gender discrimination in their positions. Teachers or employees that are mandated to report suspected instances of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual violence should receive training on how to respond to instances of sexual violence/discrimination, how to report, and how to respond to student reports of sexual violence/discrimination. Further, schools are required to train counselors, advocates, or other professionals about the confidentiality involved with a sexual discrimination/violence complaint.
Prompt Response: Schools are required to efficiently and effectively respond to complaints of sexual discrimination/violence; typically, a situation should be resolved in no more than 60 calendar days--if the nature of a situation is more complex and requires a longer period of response, then the response and resolution of the complaint should happen within a reasonable amount of time.
If there is also a police/criminal investigation of the complaint of sexual violence, the school is allotted time to accommodate the criminal investigation--but still must respond efficiently and accordingly. A criminal investigation does not allow the school to forgo their own Title IX investigation.
Reporting Options: Schools are required to notify a victim of their reporting options--schools must notify victims that they can report to the police, and should assist in that process if necessary. Schools also must respect the decision of a victim that decides not to report to the police; schools cannot discourage a victim from reporting to the police, however.
The school should also make an effort to resolve any hostile/inequitable learning environment as a result of the gender discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual violence; if a victim of sexual violence has a class with the accused offender, the school should make accommodations to prevent a hostile environment for either party. It is not the victim's sole responsibility to resolve a hostile environment or arrange accommodations for their safety; it is the school's responsibility to facilitate an equal and safe learning environment for the student. If the school does not provide necessary accommodations, they are in violation of Title IX.
Equitable Complaint Process: Schools are required to have an equal complaints process for both the accuser and the accused; both the accuser and the accused have the right to: representation during the Title IX/school disciplinary process (an advisor, or attorney, if allowed), the presentation of witnesses and evidence on their behalf, have equitable/reasonable access to all information within/regarding the hearing, be notified of all opportunities to provide their testimony, appeal the final decision of the process, and receive the final hearing decision at the same time as the other parties.
School investigations of Title IX violations are evaluated on the standard of evidence: "preponderance of evidence". This is not the same as a criminal proceeding, which requires a standard of evidence, "beyond a reasonable doubt". "Preponderance of evidence" refers to the crime/violation being "more likely than not" to have occurred or to have not occurred.
Retaliation: Schools are required to protect any person that reports sexual discrimination/violence from retaliation. Students, employees, and third parties that report instances of sexual discrimination/violence are protected from any intimidation, harassment, threat, discrimination, or consequence related to reporting sexual discrimination/violence.
Schools should not discourage or promote retaliation against any student, employee, or third party that reports sexual discrimination/violence. Any intimidation, consequence, or retaliation from an institution to a reporter of sexual discrimination/violence can be considered a Title IX violation.
If you believe that your Title IX rights have been violated, or believe that your school/institution is in violation of Title IX, you can file a Title IX complaint to the Department of Education. Filing a complaint to the Department of Education will lead to an investigation of the school/institution's actions under Title IX, and can result in loss of federal funding for the school.
To learn more about Title IX, your rights, and how to file a Title IX complaint to the Department of Education, explore the links below: Know Your IX: An organization that discusses Title IX, your rights under Title IX, and how to get involved in advocating for Title IX in schools. End Rape on Campus: A resource to learn about Title IX, your rights, and support/direction on writing your own Title IX complaint to the Department of Education.