Filing Complaints

See also:  Know Your Rights   Quick FAQs   Legal FAQs   Sample OCR Complaints   Helpful Forms

Do you believe that you are a victim of sex-based discrimination at your school? Do you know of someone who is? Learn why it’s important to report.

Sexual violence and repeated sexual harassment by peers or school staff are forms of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX.

If you believe your school is not responding appropriately or effectively, you can take action!

File a Title IX Complaint

ocrcomplaintformAny individual or group can file a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) or the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).  You don’t have to be a victim of sex discrimination to file a complaint. Filing a complaint is simple. You do not need a lawyer.

File a Title IX Lawsuit in Federal Court

  • Only a victim, or the parents of the victim (if the victim is a minor), can file a Title IX lawsuit.
  • It’s possible to file a Title IX lawsuit without filing a complaint with OCR. You can also file a complaint with OCR and then file a lawsuit after OCR has completed its investigation, regardless of the outcome. Note that if you file a Title IX lawsuit while OCR is investigating your complaint, OCR will close its investigation.

Other Complaint Options

  • OCR requires schools to “adopt and publish grievance procedures” for resolving sex discrimination complaints. Consult these procedures for ways to appeal complaints to oversight agencies at the local and state level.
  • Contact your state department of education. Many state education departments have an office that handles equity and civil rights complaints. Keep a record of all correspondence.
  • File a lawsuit under other state and federal equal protection laws. For example, six LGBTQ students filed an equal protection violation lawsuit against their school district, whose employees ignored or minimized their complaints.
  • File a lawsuit for damages suffered by the injured student. Consult a lawyer before considering this action.

 Legal Assistance

nwlc_logo  publicjustice  vrlc_logo   nclrlogocropped   legalmomentum

Contact one of the following organizations that have experience with Title IX litigation:

  • National Women’s Law Center can provide guidance and information on what to include in a complaint and how to file, as well as provide referrals.
  • Legal Momentum works to expand legal rights and services for victims of gender-based violence. You can contact Legal Momentum’s helpline by email at or by phone at (212) 925-6635, ext. 650. See their sexual harassment legal resource kit.
  • Public Justice is a national public interest law firm that uses precedent-setting litigation to fight injustice and right wrongs. It has worked on numerous sexual assault-related Title IX cases for decades, and also handles cases involving bullying and harassment, including gender-based harassment. You can contact the organization for legal assistance by phone at (202) 797-8600 or by email.
  • The Victims Rights Law Center practices in Massachusetts and Oregon but can provide technical assistance and referrals elsewhere. You can contact the VRLC by phone at 617-399-6720 x19 or at their website.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) does legal advocacy work in Title IX cases. Each state has a local affiliate. You can find your local affiliate to obtain legal assistance here.
  • gaystarThe National Center for Lesbian Rights assists with Title IX complaints for LBGTQ students Legal Help Line: 1.800.528.6257 or 415.392.6257
  • Know Your IX offers helpful tips on how to find an attorney
  • The American Bar association has a referral service in each state, specified by county
  • SurvJustice provides legal assistance and referrals

Is there a resource you’d like to see here? Contact us.

Survivors of sexual harassment and assault may immediately call 1-800-656-HOPE to be connected to the nearest crisis or counseling center. You can also use this interactive map to find local services. See additional resources here.

This website is intended to provide users with general information and resources that may be of interest. The information is provided as a public service and is not legal advice. Read more…