Title IX passed as part of the Educational Amendments of 1972. In part, it 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.” Title IX is prohibition against sex-based discrimination in education, including sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination and sexual violence. Sexual violence includes attempted or completed sexual assault, as well as sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism, exhibitionism, verbal or physical sexuality-based threats or abuse, and intimate partner violence.
Title IX protects any person from sex-based discrimination. Female, male, and gender non-conforming students, faculty and staff are protected from any sex-based discrimination, harassment or violence.
Schools must take immediate steps to address any sex discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual violence happening on campus to prevent it from affecting student further. If a school knows or reasonably should know about discrimination, harassment or violence that is creating a “hostile environment” for any student, it must act to eliminate it, remedy the harm caused and prevent its recurrence.
Schools must have an established procedure for handling complaints of sex discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual violence. Every school must have a Titile IX coordinator whose information should be publicly accessible on the school’s website. If a complaint is filed, the schools must promptly investigate it. A school may not wait for the conclusion of a criminal proceeding and should conclude its own investigation within a semester’s time (or 60 days). The final decision following the investigation should be provided to the person who filed the complaint as well as the accused in writing and both have the right to appeal the decision.
Schools must take immediate action to ensure a complainant-victim can continue his or her education free of ongoing sex discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual violence. Schools must ensure any reasonable changed to the victims housing, class or sports schedule, campus job, or extracurricular activity and clubs to ensure that they can continue their education free from any ongoing sex discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual violence. The arrangements can occur before filing a complaint, investigation, hearing or final decision has been made and can continue after the entire process. These accommodations cannot over-burden complainant-victims or limit their educational opportunities, schools can require the accused to change some school activities or classes to ensure there is not ongoing hostile educational environment.
Schools may not retaliate against someone filing a complaint and must keep the complainant-victim safe from other retaliatory harassment or behavior. Also, as part of the obligation that schools have to address complaints, they can issue a no contact directive or make other accommodations to ensure the accused or a third party does not retaliate for any complaint.
Schools can issue a no contact directive to prevent the accused from approaching or interacting with the complainant-victim in order to protect their safety. Campus security or police can and should enforce such directives. This is not a court-issued restraining order, but a school should provide you with information on how to obtain such an order and facilitate that process if you choose to pursue it.
In cases of sexual violence, schools are prohibited from encouraging or allowing mediation rather than a formal hearing of the complaint. They may offer such alternative processes for other types of complaints, such as sexual harassment. In these cases, it is the complainant-victim’s choice to participate in a mediation or seek a disciplinary hearing in the formal process. Schools are discouraged from allowing the accused to question the complainant-victim during a hearing.
Schools cannot discourage the complainant-victim from continuing their education. Title IX is a positive right to be free of a hostile environment in order to protect access to education. Complainant-victim’s have the right to remain on campus and have every educational program and opportunity available to them. Schools may not discourage the complainant-victim from continuing education, such as telling them to “take time off'” or forcing them to quit a team, club or class.