What Are Students’ Rights Under Title IX?

Group of male and female college students of all races.

What is Title IX?

Title IX, also known as the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, was passed in 1972. This law was enacted to prevent sex-based discrimination in educational institutions. For nearly 50 years, the law has been interpreted to require schools to protect students from sexual harassment and sexual violence. Under Title IX, survivors of sexual violence can hold educational institutions accountable when they aren't kept safe. Title IX applies to those educational institutions such as colleges and universities that receive federal funding, including student aid.

Read on to learn the five primary protections under Title IX.

1. Protection Against Sex Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Violence

Under Title IX, students, faculty, and staff are protected from sex-based discrimination. This includes sexual harassment and sexual violence. If an incident is reported to the school administration, the institution must immediately address the issue. While no college has lost federal funding for violating Title IX to date, some institutions have been legally mandated to pay significant damages and legal fees in cases that have been brought to court.

2. Provides Security and Support for Victims of Sexual Violence

Colleges must ensure someone who has experienced sexual violence or sexual discrimination is cared for and given access to support services. Colleges are also responsible for taking actions to prevent violence, harassment, or discrimination from happening again. These actions may include:

  • Making schedule changes for the survivor.
  • Making housing accommodations for the survivor.
  • Making changes in extracurricular activities of the survivor.

Colleges must protect the right to an education free of violence, discrimination, or harassment. If specific changes and accommodations are necessary, the school must pay all applicable costs associated with the changes — not the student.

3. Have Procedures in Place to Handle Complaints of Sexual Discrimination and Sexual Violence

Under Title IX, colleges must establish procedures for handling complaints of sexual discrimination and sexual violence. Each school must have a Title IX coordinator, and they must be easily accessible to students. The school must promptly investigate all complaints filed. Investigations should occur within a semester whenever possible, and disciplinary action should be taken if sufficient evidence is found. All parties have the right to appeal.

What is a Title IX Coordinator?

The U.S. Department of Education mandates that every school appoint a Title IX coordinator. Title IX coordinators are responsible for training faculty, staff, and students on the rights and obligations under Title IX. All appointed Title IX coordinators must be trained in Title IX compliance under federal and state laws. The school must publish the coordinator's name and contact information that is readily accessible to all students and the ways students can reach the coordinator. When selecting a coordinator, schools must be precautious to avoid any conflicts of interest. For this reason, principals, athletic directors, or district superintendents are discouraged from being appointed.

4. Mediation Can Be Used in Place of Formal Hearings in Cases of Sexual Violence

Before August 20, 2020, mediation was not an option for taking a formal hearing in cases of sexual violence. There are some provisions to this amendment under Title IX. If you are considering mediation as an option for your Title IX case, it's critical to consult your attorney to learn if you are eligible for mediation.

5. Retaliation is Prohibited in Title IX Complaints

Those who make a formal complaint under Title IX are protected against punishment or retaliation for reporting sexual violence or sexual discrimination. Colleges may not retaliate against the complaining party, and they must protect students from retaliation by third parties. For example, a college may issue a no-contact order to a person or group of people who are harassing or causing stress to the person who has filed the complaint.

Read on to learn the most common questions about Title IX.

Which Educational Institutions Are Subject to Title IX Rules?

Educational institutions that must comply with Title IX rules are as follows:

  • Vocational education institutions
  • Professional education institutions
  • Graduate higher education institutions
  • Public institutions of undergraduate higher education
  • Public kindergarten through 12th-grade schools
  • Private schools
  • After school programs
  • Extracurricular activity programs
  • Libraries
  • Museums and vocational rehabilitation agencies (if they receive federal funding)

What is Considered Sex Discrimination Under Title IX?

Under Title IX, sex discrimination includes sexual harassment and gender-based harassment. Harassment and come in the following forms:

  • Unwanted sexual comments
  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Cyberbullying
  • Non-consensual sexual contact

Gender-based harassment also falls under Title IX protections. An example of gender-based harassment may include someone harassed or bullied because they don't conform to gender stereotypes, such as a boy bullied by his peers for wearing a dress to school.

What if Sexual Misconduct and Discrimination Happens Off-Campus?

Whether incidents occur on or off-campus, schools must take action against harassment, assault, and discrimination that involves students and faculty. Harassment or sexual discrimination that happens off campus can create a hostile learning environment under Title IX rules.

What Happens After I Make a Complaint?

While procedures may vary from state to state, the district’s Department of Education standards must be met. The school is required to take steps to understand what occurred and respond appropriately. The investigations must be prompt, fair, and impartial. Complaints are not permitted to be made public, so victims can feel safer reporting the incident.

What is the Clery Act and How Does it Relate to a School’s Obligations Under Title IX?

Educational institutions that participate in federal student financial aid programs are subject to follow requirements of the Clery Act as well as Title IX. Under the Clery Act, each year, colleges and universities must disclose campus crime statistics and information about campus security policies if they want to continue to participate in federal student aid programs. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 amendments to the Clery Act states schools must compile statistics of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It must also include specific policies, procedures, and programs for handling these incidences in an annual security report.

How Survivors of Sexual Assault Can Hold Their Perpetrators Accountable

The college experience is supposed to be a fun, exciting time. Not only do students have the opportunity to learn and grow, but there are also many opportunities to make new friends and live out new experiences. However, no one expects to be sexually assaulted when getting an education. Sadly, the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses paints a different picture.

After enduring sexual assault, it can be difficult for survivors to speak out and take action against their perpetrators. Filing a sexual assault claim against your perpetrator and other responsible parties can help you receive compensation for medical bills, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.

Know that you are not alone, and we believe you. At Grewal Law PLLC, we understand the challenges survivors face. Contact our sexual abuse and assault injury lawyers to help you navigate the legal process of filing a civil claim against the liable party.

Call Grewal Law PLLC at (888) 211-5798 to schedule a consultation.

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