Notice: New Title IX Regulations will be effective on August 1, 2024

Frequently Asked Questions: Title IX

What is Title IX?

“Title IX” refers to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. It is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities operated by recipients of federal financial assistance. Under Title IX, all primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools, including K-12 districts, charter schools, colleges, universities, vocational schools, and community colleges that receive federal financial assistance, are required to comply with the Title IX Regulations.

Title IX prohibits discrimination in several key issue areas, such as recruitment, admissions, counseling, financial assistance, athletics, sex-based harassment, treatment of pregnant and parenting students, treatment of LGBTQI+ students, discipline, single-sex education, and employment. For more information about the scope of Title IX, visit the U.S. Department of Education website.

In 2020, the U.S. Department of Education released the “New Title IX Regulations” to address sexual harassment. These Regulations require educational institutions to “adopt and publish grievance procedures that provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of student and employee complaints” alleging sexual harassment.[1]

Such grievance procedures include a prompt and impartial investigation, live hearing (for postsecondary institutions) or written decision-making process (K-12 schools), and appeals process.

The 2020 Regulations also define sexual harassment and outline the rights of students and employees under Title IX.

[1] 2020 Title IX Regulations §106.8(c)

Does Title IX apply only to sports?

No. While many think Title IX is a law that only applies to athletics, in reality it is a broader law that prohibits sex discrimination in education programs or activities operated by recipients of federal financial assistance.

Does Title IX only protect students living on campus?

Title IX protects students in connection with all the academic, educational, extracurricular, athletic, and other programs of the school. This applies to programs that take place in a school’s facilities, on a school bus, or at a class or training program. Title IX also protects employees of educational institutions.

What constitutes sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is defined specifically in the 2020 Title IX Regulations.

Sexual harassment means conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following: 

(1) An employee of the recipient conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the recipient on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct;

(2) Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity; or

 (3) “Sexual assault” as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1092(f)(6)(A)(v), “dating violence” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(10), “domestic violence” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(8), or “stalking” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(30).[1]

[1] 2020 Title IX Regulations §106.30

What constitutes sexual violence?

Sexual violence refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim’s use of drugs or alcohol. An individual also may be unable to give consent due to an intellectual or other disability. A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion. Sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking are form of sexual violence that are considered to be sexual harassment under Title IX.

What are a school’s obligations when it has notice of a Title IX related incident?

If the school is made aware of a potential incident of sexual harassment in it’s own education program or activity, Title IX requires the school to respond promptly in a manner that is “not deliberately indifferent.” To do this, the school Title IX Coordinator must promptly contact the complainant to discuss the availability of supportive measures, consider the complainant’s wishes regarding supportive measures, and explain the process for filing a formal complaint under Title IX to initiate the formal investigation and Title IX grievance procedures.

Additionally, schools must treat complainants (alleged victims) and respondents (alleged perpetrators) equitably by offering supportive measures to the complainant and completing the Title IX grievance process before imposing sanctions against a respondent.[1]

If a formal Title IX complaint is filed, the school must notify the complainant and respondent of the allegations, conduct an investigation, facilitate a formal decision-making process (either a live hearing or written decision-making process), and allow the students or employees to appeal the school’s decision.

 

[1] 2020 Title IX Regulations §106.44

Does Title IX cover employee-on-student sexual violence, such as sexual abuse of children?

Yes. Title IX protects students from all forms of sexual harassment (including sexual violence and abuse), including harassment by school employees. Sexual harassment by school employees can include unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors. Additionally, other verbal, nonverbal, or physical sexual conduct, including but not limited to sexual activity, is covered by Title IX.

What procedures must a school have in place to prevent sexual violence and resolve complaints?

The 2020 Title IX Regulations describes numerous procedures for schools. Generally, Title IX outlines three procedural requirements. Each school must: 

  1. Disseminate a notice of nondiscrimination
  2. Designate at least one employee to coordinate its efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under Title IX
  3. Adopt and publish grievance procedures providing for the prompt and equitable resolution of student and employee sex discrimination complaints

Specific procedures are contained in the 2020 Title IX Regulations

What are the key differences between a school’s Title IX investigation into allegations of sexual violence and a criminal investigation?

A criminal investigation is intended to determine whether an individual violated criminal law. After the investigation, if the individual is tried and found guilty, they may be imprisoned or subject to criminal penalties. A Title IX investigation will never directly result in incarceration of an individual. Therefore, the same procedural protections and legal standards are not required. Further, while a criminal investigation is initiated at the discretion of law enforcement authorities, a Title IX investigation is not discretionary. A school has a duty under Title IX to resolve complaints promptly and equitably and to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, free from sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Is a school required to process complaints of alleged sexual violence that occurred off campus?

No. Under the 2020 Title IX Regulations, schools are only required to respond to incidents that occurred against a person in the United States and within its own “education program or activity,” which includes “locations, events, or circumstances over which the recipient exercised substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the sexual harassment occurs, and it also includes any building owned or controlled by a student organization that is officially recognized by a postsecondary institution.” ,

However, incidents of sexual harassment that occur outside of the United States or the school’s own education program or activity may be addressed under other school policies such as a Code of Conduct.

Are Title IX administrators required to be trained?

Under Title IX, there is a federal requirement for Title IX Coordinators, Investigators, Decision-Makers, and Informal Resolution Facilitators to receive training.

“A recipient must ensure that Title IX Coordinators, investigators, decision-makers, and any person who facilitates an informal resolution process, receive training on the definition of sexual harassment in § 106.30, the scope of the recipient’s education program or activity, how to conduct an investigation and grievance process including hearings, appeals, and informal resolution processes, as applicable, and how to serve impartially, including by avoiding prejudgment of the facts at issue, conflicts of interest, and bias. A recipient must ensure that decision-makers receive training on any technology to be used at a live hearing and on issues of relevance of questions and evidence, including when questions and evidence about the complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior are not relevant, as set forth in paragraph (b)(6) of this section. A recipient also must ensure that investigators receive training on issues of relevance to create an investigative report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence, as set forth in paragraph (b)(5)(vii) of this section. Any materials used to train Title IX Coordinators, investigators, decision-makers, and any person who facilitates an informal resolution process, must not rely on sex stereotypes and must promote impartial investigations and adjudications of formal complaints of sexual harassment;”[1]

[1] 2020 Title IX Regulations §106.45(b)(1)(iii)

How often should administrators seek Title IX training?

As best practice, we recommend annual training to keep skills sharp and stay up-to-date on the latest case law and trending topics within Title IX. For a full list of training opportunities click here.

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