Title IX and Sexual Harassment

Title IX and Sexual Harassment

Thomas C. Gibbon, David F. Bateman
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7036-3.ch018
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This chapter addresses the application of Title IX to protect students from sexual harassment and assault in schools and human service organizations. The United States continues to need this legislation to protect students and other vulnerable populations. Title IX recognizes that sexual harassment can happen between males and females or within genders. Age is not a limiting factor in sexual harassment cases. The law is designed to protect victims regardless of the source of the alleged abuse. Institutions must designate a Title IX Coordinator, create and publicize policies and procedures, and regularly train students and employees. When a complaint is being investigated, the institution must protect the privacy of the victim, protect the victim's safety, document the steps taken, and act promptly. Students can sue for damages if the school does not comply with Title IX procedures. This chapter was meant as an overview of this topic. The authors strongly recommend seeking legal counsel for any specific questions about a violation of Title IX.
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What Is Title Ix?

Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that has removed many barriers that once prevented people, on the basis of sex, from participating in educational opportunities and careers of their choice. It 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 (20 U. S. C. §1681, et seq).

Title IX applies to all aspects of education programs or activities operated by recipients of federal financial assistance. In addition to educational institutions such as colleges, universities, and elementary and secondary schools, Title IX also applies to any education or training program operated by a recipient of federal financial assistance (20 U. S. C. §1681, et seq).

The Office of Civil Rights has provided the rules relating to Title IX as they relate to sexual misconduct and guidance for Civil Rights in the US Department of Education. In 2011 they issued a Dear Colleague Letter on student-on-student sexual harassment and sexual violence. It explained a school’s responsibility to respond promptly and effectively to sexual violence against students in accordance with the requirements of Title IX (Office for Civil Rights, 2011).

Specifically, Title IX:

  • Provides guidance on the unique concerns that arise in sexual violence cases, such as a school’s independent responsibility under Title IX to investigate (apart from any separate criminal investigation by local police) and address sexual violence.


History Of Title Ix

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. The purpose of this law was to end discrimination in multiple areas based on religion, race, color, or national origin (Hanson, Guilfoy, & Pillai, 2011). The employment part of the Civil Rights Act also prohibited sex discrimination. Prohibitions on discrimination based on sex in federally assisted programs was not a part of the Civil Rights Act, but many women’s groups became enthused about the possibility of an expansive prohibition on the basis of sex and pushed for changes through the 1960’s (Hanson, Guilfoy, & Pillai, 2011).

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