Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in any federally funded education program or activity. Title IX protects all students from gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment, regardless of gender identity and/or gender expression. Schools must enforce Title IX but administrators are more often than not ignorant of their responsibilities.
The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces compliance with Title IX. OCR regularly issues guidance that explains how it evaluates Title IX complaints against schools. OCR also expects schools to proactively address sexual harassment and sexual violence. This includes preventing sexual harassment at school, training staff and Title IX coordinators, and other essential responsibilities.
Since 2009, OCR has investigated at least 250 sexual harassment/assault complaints, and is currently investigating 40 such complaints in elementary and secondary schools. Also since 2009, OCR has initiated at least 25 proactive investigations of sexual harassment/assault under Title IX.
If a school fails to remedy a violation or fails to implement mandated changes, OCR will first bring these failures to the institution’s attention and offer it the opportunity to take corrective action. If the institution does not agree to a resolution or fails to implement the provisions of an agreement, OCR may refer the case to the U.S. Department of Justice for possible litigation. OCR may initiate administrative enforcement against non-compliant institutions by seeking the discontinuation of federal funding at that school or institution.
In addition to investigations by the U.S. government, school districts are subject to Title IX lawsuits by families. The epidemic of unchecked sexual harassment/assault in our schools means that more families are successfully suing districts over mishandling sexual harassment and assault. When students and families continue to learn about their rights, school districts will face the consequences of their failure to implement Title IX.
Our trainings for school administrators are designed to inform schools how to apply OCR guidance when responding to reported sexual harassment or assault. Our trainings for students ensure that they know their rights and how to protect their education and emotional well-being from the impact of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination.