Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal statute that protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. Title IX states: “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.” Title IX protects not only students, but also parents and employees.
As explained by the U.S. Department of Education:
“Title IX applies to institutions that receive federal financial assistance from ED, including state and local educational agencies. These agencies include approximately 16,500 local school districts, 7,000 postsecondary institutions, as well as charter schools, for-profit schools, libraries, and museums. Also included are vocational rehabilitation agencies and education agencies of 50 states, the District of Columbia, and territories and possessions of the United States.”
“Educational programs and activities that receive ED funds must operate in a nondiscriminatory manner. Some key issue areas in which recipients have Title IX obligations are: recruitment, admissions, and counseling; financial assistance; athletics; sex-based harassment; treatment of pregnant and parenting students; discipline; single-sex education; and employment. Also, a recipient may not retaliate against any person for opposing an unlawful educational practice or policy, or made charges, testified or participated in any complaint action under Title IX. For a recipient to retaliate in any way is considered a violation of Title IX.”
Title IX contains several important exemptions. Title IX does not prohibit single-sex policies in elementary, secondary, or private undergraduate schools. The statute’s prohibition on single-sex education applies to vocational, professional, graduate, and public undergraduate schools. Additional exemptions include membership policies of certain university-based social fraternities and sororities, the Girl and Boy Scouts, the YMCA and YWCA, and certain other voluntary single-sex and tax-exempt youth organizations. Title IX exempts from coverage any educational operation of an entity that is controlled by a religious organization only to the extent Title IX would be inconsistent with the religious tenets of the organization. There are a number of other exceptions permitting single-sex programs under certain limited circumstances.
The Title IX regulations contain a variety of procedural requirements, the most important of which is the requirement to establish grievance procedures. The regulations require that every recipient to which Title IX applies “adopt and publish grievance procedures providing for prompt and equitable resolution of student and employee complaints alleging any action that be prohibited by these Title IX regulations.”
Title IX is enforceable by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, and through a private right of action.
Because the legal rules governing Title IX claims are complicated, an individual who believes he or she has been discriminated against based on sex by an educational institution should contact a qualified civil rights attorney immediately.