Tag Archives: education

Know Your Title IX Rights

Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex against any person who participates in any federally funded education program. This means that many schools, colleges and universities across the country are subject to Title IX laws.

Contrary to popular opinion, Title IX does not apply just to college athletics. Title IX typically applies to 10 topics, ranging from standardized testing to technology.  We focus here specifically on sexual assault and sexual harassment cases, and we have a history of representing clients in Title IX matter against their schools.

Furthermore, Title IX law does not just apply to female students. Title IX protects equal rights in federally funded education for each and every person involved. This includes students, staff, faculty and other employees. It also includes women, girls, men and boys; those with or without disabilities; and international and undocumented workers. Under Title IX, every person has a right to pursue education or work in education, free from sex discrimination, sexual violence and sexual harassment.

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Title IX: Key Terms

Title IX terms are often unclear, and the very nature of claims can make the process confusing. We’ve put together some key terms and definitions that should help you understand a little bit more about Title IX and filing a claim under Title IX. As always, if you have any questions, contact us.

Bystander Intervention – This model focuses on stopping sexual assault by teaching prevention and interruption skills. It includes education on sexual assault, speaking out against sexual assault, and understanding and interpreting situations that could lead to sexual assault before it happens.

Campus Grant Program – This is a fund given to colleges and universities, specifically for reducing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking on campus.

Clery Act – This is a federal law that requires higher education institutions to disclose and report statistics and information about campus crime, as well as prevention programs and policies. The information must be available to students, employees and the public.

Compliance Review – The Departments of Education and Justice periodically review federally funded educational institutions to check for compliance with federal laws, such as Title IX. Recently, many colleges and universities across the country have been failing to comply with Title IX laws.

FERPA – The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. This is not limited to academic transcripts. It also includes health records, disciplinary records and complaints.

Injunctive Relief – This is a court order (“injunction”) that requires a specific action. For example, a college may be required to provide counselling for a victim of sexual assault or made to improve education and training programs surrounding sexual violence and harassment.

Preponderance of the Evidence – This is the standard of proof in Title IX proceedings.  It essentially means proving that it is more likely than not that sexual violence or sexual harassment occurred. This is significantly easier to meet than the well-known criminal standard:  beyond a reasonable doubt.

Primary Prevention – The aim is to prevent sexual violence from occurring. This may be through training and education programs. Bystander invention is an example of primary prevention.

Responsible Employees – This term refers to any employee who is authorized to take action regarding sexual violence. It may also refer to someone who reports the incident to the Title IX coordinator or someone who a student may consider to have the authority.

Retaliation – Title IX law makes it unlawful to retaliate against an individual either before, during or after a complaint has been made. Retaliation includes intimidation, threats, coercion, harassment, bullying or creating a hostile environment.

Title IX Coordinator – Federally funded educational institutions must designate at least one employee to ensure compliance with Title IX. That person must be trained in sexual violence and sexual harassment cases and oversee all Title IX complaints.

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 – This amended the Violence Against Women Act and the Clery Act (see above) to update the requirements of how schools prevent and respond to sexual violence. The new requirements include primary prevention education, awareness programs, statistics on stalking and sexual assault (already required), issuing complainants a written notice of their rights, and updating grievance policies.

White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault – Established by the President in January 2014, the task force is charged with improving and sharing practices regarding sexual assault, increasing transparency and public awareness, and improving enforcement.

Why Title IX is critical to sexual harassment cases at colleges and universities

Title IX is a critical federal law. Almost every person in the United States (citizen or non-citizen – it applies to both) is protected by Title IX at some point in their life, be it during grade school, high school, or higher education.  Furthermore, Title IX applies to everyone who is connected to federally-funded education, from staff to students, and from presidents to professors. However, while Title IX is a well-written law, the failures appear in application and enforcement, typically by educational institutions ill-prepared to dealing with sexual violence or sexual harassment despite their legal mandates.

Here are some sobering statistics and thoughts, courtesy of TitleIX.info, that highlight how much work needs to be done:

  • 8 in 10 students experience some form of harassment during their school years, and more than 1 in 4 experience it often;
  • Girls are more likely than boys to experience sexual harassment (56% v. 40%), but boys are more likely to be harassed today than in 1994; and
  • Victims of sexual harassment are impacted deeply.

If you have any questions about this blog, or would like to speak to someone about sexual violence and harassment, please contact us today.

Title IX: A brief review

Title IX

“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”

Title IX is a law passed in 1972 designed to require gender equality in every federally funded educational program. Title IX is perhaps best known for providing equal opportunities in athletics. However, the law has a wide scope and refers to many different areas including:

  • Athletics
  • Learning Environment
  • Access to Higher Education
  • Math and Science
  • Career Education
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Education for Pregnant and Parenting Students
  • Standardized Testing
  • Employment
  • Technology

As a result, any person involved in federally funded education, from students to teachers, is protected by Title IX from any discriminatory, retaliatory or biased factors that may arise in the classroom, on the sports field, or in any other arena.

Philip Gordon and Elizabeth Rodgers have represented clients in a range of Title IX matters and can provide the experience and know-how to implement a law that many schools are not in compliance with or simply do not understand.

For more information on Title IX, visit www.titleix.info or contact us.