Frequently Asked Questions: Title IX

What is Title IX?
Title IX of the Education Amendments is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities operated by recipients of Federal financial assistance.
Does Title IX apply only to sports?

No. While many think Title IX is a law applying to sports, it’s broader and applies to all public and private school systems.

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.

What constitutes sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual violence is a form of sexual harassment prohibited by Title IX.
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. All such acts of sexual violence are forms of sexual harassment covered 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, Title IX requires it to take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred (subject to confidentiality considerations). If an investigation uncovers sexual harassment, including sexual violence, the school must then take prompt action. Thus effective steps reasonably calculated to end the sexual harassment or sexual violence must be taken to prevent its recurrence and, as appropriate, remedy its effects on the victim and educational community.

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?
Title IX regulations outline three key 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
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?

Yes. Under Title IX, a school must process all complaints of sexual violence, regardless of where the conduct occurred. They must determine whether the conduct occurred in the context of an education program or activity. Similarly, whether the conduct had continuing effects on campus or in an off-campus education program or activity.

What constitutes off-campus education activities?
Off-campus education programs and activities are clearly covered and include, but are not limited to: activities that take place at houses of fraternities or sororities recognized by the school; school-sponsored field trips, including athletic team travel; and events for school clubs that occur off campus (e.g., a debate team trip to another school or to a weekend competition).

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