Education has often been the battleground for the fight for equal opportunities. Title IX, a pivotal federal statute enacted in 1972, is at the heart of this fight. After becoming a law, it greatly changed the trajectory of educational equality in the United States.
This article looks at the roots of Title IX, what you should know about it as a student and what changes to its interpretation may be in the future.
The Origins of Title IX
The civil rights movements of the 1960s paved the way for a greater focus on equal rights. And the 1970s marked a time ripe for significant social and political changes. Title IX was a response to this growing awareness of discrimination, and specifically gender-based discrimination in educational settings.
Title IX was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in June 1972. It was just a 37-word statute tucked away with many amendments in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965. It wasn’t until 1979, though, when the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), which oversees compliance of Title IX, adopted a policy on collegiate athletics that Title IX gained significant traction.
What Title IX Means
Title IX reads:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
Simply put, Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex at all levels of educational institutions that receive federal funding. It mandates that schools must offer equal opportunities for both genders in areas such as admissions, scholarships, athletics, and extracurricular activities. Title IX also applies to museums and libraries that receive federal funds.
Further note, this statute requires institutions to have a designated Title IX coordinator to manage compliance and to handle complaints of discrimination.
Sexual Assault and Sexual Violence
While Title IX has played a major role in opening doors to educational and sporting opportunities for many students, it also offers protection. Institutes receiving federal funding have a duty to protect their communities from sex-based discrimination, including sexual harassment and violence.
Title IX gives protection for both the victim and the accused. Under this statute, once a school is notified of an incident, the victim should receive immediate support services and accommodations to scheduling and housing. But Title IX also gives rights to the accused. They have a right to a thorough, prompt investigation by trained professionals, to a written notice of the allegations, and to share evidence to support their innocence.
Title IX claims of sexual abuse are common cases for education attorneys. We encourage you to reach out to our group if you’ve been a victim at your university or have been wrongly accused of sexual misconduct. Having professional help at your side is crucial in these sensitive cases.
Progress Made but More to Do
Since its inception, Title IX has caused sweeping changes in schools, spurring greater gender equality in education and offering protection to those sexually assaulted (and those accused of the act).
Yes, more females participate in sports now, and larger numbers graduate in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. However, there is still work to be done. Disparities still exist in STEM programs and leadership roles. Unfortunately, cases of sexual assault are being reported daily, and more conversations are needed about what Title IX means to transgender students and faculty.
The Education Litigation Group is Here to Help
We’re here to help you. Reach out if you have questions about your rights under Title IX, you’ve filed a Title IX claim at your school, or you’ve been accused of sexual misconduct at your university. We know Title IX policies thoroughly and are ready to answer your questions.