FAQ

FAQ

| General | Athletics | K-12 | Higher Education/ Campuses Pregnant and Parenting StudentsSexual Assault ConsentSurvivors Accused | Alcohol/DrugsHazing Further Explanations and Additional Resources |

General

  • What is Title IX?

    • On June 23, 1972, the President signed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq., into law. Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. The principal objective of Title IX is to avoid the use of federal money to support sex discrimination in education programs and to provide individual citizens effective protection against those practices. Title IX applies, with a few specific exceptions, to all aspects of federally funded education programs or activities. In addition to traditional 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. The Department of Education has issued regulations on the requirements of Title IX, 34 C.F.R. § 106.1et seq. The Title IX common rule published on August 30, 2000 covers education program providers/recipients that are funded by other federal agencies.
      • Sexual Harassment
      • Sexual Violence
      • Sex Discrimination
      • Gender Discrimination
      • Gender Identity Discrimination
      • Intimate Partner Violence
      • Sex/Gender-Based Stalking
      • Sex/Gender-Based Bullying
      • Sex/Gender-Based Hazing
      • Athletics
      • Academic Program Equity
      • Admissions
      • Study Abroad
      • Pregnant Students
      • Parenting Students
      • Disparate Treatment
      • Externships & Internships
      • Summer Camps
      • And more…

 

 

  • Isn’t Title IX just about athletics?

    • Title IX addresses discrimination based on sex/gender in education. Under Title IX, sexual harassment as a form of sex/gender discrimination, and the law requires that all incidents of sexual harassment be viewed as discrimination and be investigated.  Sex or gender based discrimination in athletics is one form of discrimination, but the law was actually created to respond to sex or gender discrimination in employment at educational institutions receiving federal funds.  The law applies to both students and employees.

 

  • What is a confidential vs. responsible employee?

    • Most school employees are “responsible employees”, who have an obligation to notify the school’s designated Title IX coordinator of any reports or incidents of sex-based discrimination including sexual violence.  Specifically, the concept of a “responsible employee” includes any employee who has the authority to take action to redress harassment; has the duty to report harassment or other types of misconduct to appropriate officials; or is someone a student could reasonably believe has this authority or responsibility.  By contrast, a “confidential employee” is a school employee who is not required to report to the Title IX coordinator, and includes campus mental health counselors, pastoral counselors, social workers, psychologists, heath center employees, or any other person who holds a professional license requiring confidentiality and whose official responsibilities include providing counseling or similar services, and who is functioning within the scope of the license when they receive the report, or who is supervised by such a person.  In addition, a school may designate certain nonprofessional counselors or advocates as confidential, including individuals who work or volunteer in on-campus sexual assault centers, victim advocacy offices, women’s centers, or health centers. Responsible employees must share with the Title IX coordinator all relevant details including names.  Under the Clery Act, there are separate requirements for campus security authorities (CSAs) to share reports of designated alleged crimes with the reporting structure established by the school, often public safety or campus law enforcement.

 

  • What is the role of a staff/faulty member?

    • Faculty members who have the duty to report misconduct, such as academic misconduct, are considered responsible employees who must share reports of Title IX incidents with the Title IX coordinator.   Many staff members are “responsible employees.”  The role of the responsible employees is to report to the Title IX coordinator, inform reporting parties of their right to file a Title IX complaint with the school and report a crime to campus or local law enforcement, and provide reporting parties with information regarding on-campus resources, including victim advocacy, housing assistance, academic support, counseling, disability services, health and mental health services, and legal assistance (often by providing a resource guide).  Beyond that, employees should protect the privacy of the parties involved and avoid interfering with the investigation, by not asking questions/attempting to gather information.

 

  • Is there a penalty for Title IX non-compliance?

    • A school that fails to comply with Title IX could be sued in a court of law, and a court could issue a monetary judgment against the school.  In addition, the federal agency that oversees Title IX, the Office for Civil Rights, could revoke a school’s federal funding or implement a resolution agreement, which the agency would then monitor.

 

  • How does Title IX impact what courses a school offers?

    • Generally, a school that receives federal funding may not provide separate courses based on sex or gender, although some exceptions exist.  For example, sex education in elementary and secondary education may be offered separately.  In addition, pursuant to Title IX, school administrators may not assign students to take classes based on sex or gender.
  • Does Title IX profit bias in textbook or curriculum content?

 

  • Are male students protected under Title IX?

    • Title IX protects against sex discrimination.  Any conduct that is sexual in nature (regardless of the sex of the victim)  or any discrimination against an individual that is based on their sex as male or female falls under under Title IX.

 

Athletics

  • How do athletics comply with Title IX?

    • In general, Title IX impacts upon the effective accommodation of interests and abilities in sports, the proportionality of financial assistance available to female and male student-athletes, and the treatment of student-athletes regarding the equivalency of athletic benefits and opportunities.   Although Title IX was not created as a means to effect equitable treatment in athletics, the law has had a profound effect on sports.

 

  • What about participation. scholarships, and programs?

    • With respect to participation, schools must meet one of the following three tests: a) Provide participation opportunities for female and male students that are substantially proportionate to their respective rates of enrollment; b) Demonstrate a continual practice of program expansion for the underrepresented sex; or c) Fully and effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.  This is often referred to as the “three-prong test.”With respect to scholarships, Title IX requires that female and male student-athletes receive athletics scholarship dollars proportional to their participation.In addition, Title IX requires equivalent treatment of female and male student-athletes in the provisions of: (a) equipment and supplies; (b) scheduling of games and practice times; (c) travel and daily allowance/per diem; (d) access to tutoring; (e) coaching, (f) locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities; (g) medical and training facilities and services; (h) housing and dining facilities and services; (i) publicity and promotions; (j) support services and (k) recruitment of student-athletes.Title IX compliance is assessed through a total program comparison (the entire men’s program compared to the entire women’s program).
  • Does Title IX require male athletic opportunities be cut?

    • No, the law requires that athletics programs meet the interests and abilities of each gender, and there are many ways a school can accomplish this.  Title IX does not require reductions in opportunities for male student-athletes; instead it is about equal opportunity and quality of treatment of student athletes. Title IX compliance is assessed through a total program comparison (the entire men’s program compared to the entire women’s program).
  • Are athletic opportunities now equal?

    • Although we have seen significant progress since Title IX became law in 1972, much remains to be done.  Girls have 1.3 million fewer opportunities to participate in high school sports than boys (National Federation of State High School Associations, 2014).  At the collegiate level, women have more than 60,000 fewer sports opportunities than men and receive $201 million less in athletic scholarships (NCAA, 2014).  Research shows that, for high school sports, girls’ share of opportunities has actually declined in the first decade of the 21st century. (Sabo, D. and Veliz, P., 2012. The Decade of Decline: Gender Equity in High School Sports. Ann Arbor, MI:
      SHARP Center for Women and Girls.)

 

K-12

 

Higher Education/ Campuses

  • As a higher education employee, what do I need to know in terms of Title IX and sexual misconduct?

    • You should know that Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex and gender discrimination in education, including in employment, at any educational institution receiving federal funds.  Title IX imposes certain obligations on schools that center on the prevention of, and response to, incidents of sex or gender discrimination, which incudes sexual harassment and sexual violence.  You should know that many school employees are considered “responsible employees”, meaning that once those employees are aware of an incident of sex or gender discrimination, the school is required to respond, under federal law. You should know that Title IX is enforced by the Department of Education, and failure to comply with Title IX can have serious consequences for a school.  You should know that every school has a Title IX coordinator, who oversees the school’s compliance with Title IX and who can speak with you in detail about how Title IX works on your campus.  In addition you should know that Title IX prohibits retaliation, which is adverse action directed against anyone who brings forward a complaint under Title IX or who supports a reporting party, assists a reporting party, or who provides information relevant to an allegation, when the adverse action occurs because of one’s participation in the report.   You should also know that the federal government has imposed upon schools extensive obligations to train students, faculty and staff about these issues.

 

  • What should an employee do if (s)he has witness/heard of a sexual assault?

    • Many staff members and most faculty members are considered “responsible employees,”  and when a responsible employee learns of a sexual assault, that triggers certain legal obligations on behalf of the school.  The role of responsible employees is to promptly report to the Title IX coordinator, inform reporting parties of their right to file a Title IX complaint with the school and report a crime to campus or local law enforcement, and provide reporting parties with information regarding on-campus resources, including victim advocacy, housing assistance, academic support, counseling, disability services, health and mental health services, and legal assistance (often by providing a resource guide).  Beyond that, employees should protect the privacy of the parties involved and avoid interfering with the investigation, by not asking questions/attempting to gather information.  If you are unsure whether or not you are a responsible employee, you should contact your school’s Title X coordinator to find out.

 

  • What is the “preponderance of the evidence” standard of evidence?

    • The preponderance of the evidence standard is the required standard of proof in a school’s grievance procedures for Title IX cases. It is also referred to as “more likely than not”, and is equivalent to 50.1% or “50% plus a feather.”  A school will find an individual responsible for violating a Title IX policy when the evidence supports the finding based on a preponderance of the evidence. If the evidence is 50/50, the tie goes to the responding party (the accused individual). This standard for weighing evidence is mandated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in its “Dear Colleague Letter: Sexual Violence, April 4, 2011.”

 

  • What is the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of evidence?

    • “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is the standard of proof that applies in a criminal trial.  It is a very high standard of proof that is significantly greater than the preponderance of the evidence standard.

 

Pregnant and Parenting Students

  • Are Title IX rights granted to pregnant students?

    • Yes, Title IX protects all students and employees from sex-based discrimination.   The Department of Education’s regulations implementing Title IX specifically prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery from any of these conditions.  In June of 2013, the Office for Civil Rights issued a pamphlet entitled, “Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972” which details these obligations.

 

Sexual Assault

  • What does sexual assault mean?

    • Sexual assault refers to legally proscribed sexual contact.  This is terminology specific to criminal law, and as such, doesn’t belong in school policy or grievance procedures.Some conduct that may constitute “sexual assault” under the law may violate a school’s sexual misconduct policy; the school policy may additionally prohibit conduct that would not meet the legal definition of sexual assault.

 

  • What is sexual misconduct?

    • Sexual misconduct generally refers to sexual conduct that is prohibited by school policy, and typically includes sexual harassment, nonconsensual sexual intercourse, nonconsensual sexual contact, and sexual exploitation.
    •  Sexual exploitation occurs when individuals take non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for their own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited, and that behavior does not otherwise constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses.  Examples of sexual exploitation include non-consensual recording of nudity or sexual activity, unauthorized sharing or distribution of recordings of nudity or sexual activity, and engaging in voyeurism.

 

  • How does Title IX relate to sexual assault?

    • Some conduct that may constitute “sexual assault” under the law may violate a school’s sexual misconduct policy; the school policy may additionally prohibit conduct that would not meet the legal definition of sexual assault.

 

  • Does Title IX mandate victims/survivors to report their assault to their school/to the police?

    • No.  Title IX allows each victim/survivor to make their own decision about whether or not to report an assault to the school and/or police.  When a school receives information about a possible sexual assault or incident of stalking, dating violence or domestic violence, it must provide the reporting party with information about the victim’s option to notify law enforcement authorities, including on-campus and local police, to be assisted by campus authorities in notifying law enforcement authorities if the victim so chooses, and to decline to notify such authorities.

 

  • Is there a time limit for making a report?

    • No, not under Title IX.  Schools may set a time limit as a matter of policy so long as the time limit is reasonable and not arbitrary, but doing so may make it difficult to address some reports and patterns of problematic conduct.

 

  • Can a victim/survivor/ remain confidential in reporting?

    • In general, if a victim/survivor wishes for the school to investigate an incident of sex or gender discrimination including sexual violence, the victim/survivor will not be able to remain confidential.  In most cases, the responding party (the accused individual) will have a right to be informed as to who has made the report.  For this reason, a victim/survivor may wish to consult with a campus mental health counselor, pastoral counselor, or health services provider to review the options available to the survivor/victim, in order to make an informed choice about reporting.Sometimes, a victim/survivor makes a report or discloses to a “responsible employee” of the school (see above for a definition of responsible employee) but then requests that the school not take any action in response.  It is important to understand that some situations may require the school to proceed with investigating the report even if that is contrary to the reporting party’s wishes.  Some examples are when the report involves allegations of the use of a weapon, when there are multiple perpetrators, when the alleged perpetrator threatened further sexual violence or other violence against the victim or others, and circumstances suggesting there is an increased risk of the alleged perpetrator committing additional acts of sexual violence or other violence.  Remember that even when a school decides to proceed, a victim/survivor is never obligated to participate if they choose not to.

 

  • What is the role of the school to stop sexual assault?

    • If a school knows or reasonably should know about sexual harassment that creates a hostile environment, Title IX requires the school to take immediate action to eliminate the harassment, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.  Additionally, the Office for Civil Rights expects schools to take proactive measures to prevent sexual harassment and violence. Pursuant to the Violence Against Women Act, a school has extensive obligations to provide programs to prevent dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

 

  • Does Title IX cover complaints of sexual misconduct made by a student about a staff member?

    • Yes.   Title IX applies to employees, too, pursuant to a Supreme Court decision in 1982, called North Haven v. Bell.

 

  • Does Title IX cover complaints of sexual misconduct made by a staff member about another staff member?

    •  Yes.   Title IX applies to employees, too, pursuant to a Supreme Court decision in 1982, called North Haven v. Bell.

 

  • Does Title IX cover complaints of sexual misconduct made by a staff member about a student?

    • Yes.

 

  • Someone has filed a sexual assault compliant against me. What do I do? (Student/Staff/Faulty)

    • You may wish to review your school’s policies to learn about your rights in the school’s resolution process, consult with an advisor or attorney, or seek support from a confidential source such as a counseling center.  It’s also important to follow any directives from the school that may require you to not have contact with the reporting party. The school’s Title IX coordinator should be able to provide you with detailed information about the school’s resolution process.   Remember that a school may make findings and issue sanctions even without your participation in the resolution process, so it is important to not ignore any letters or notifications you receive.

 

Consent

  • What is affirmative consent?

  • “The ages of consent in North America for sexual activity vary by jurisdiction. The age of consent in Canada is 16. All S. states set their limits between 16 and 18.”
    Wikipedia Consent Page
  • What is the age of consent?

  • “The legislation, which was introduced as a direct response to the current sexual assault crisis on college campuses, defines consent as an “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity” every step of the way.” www.thinkprogress.org
  • “The term “Affirmative Consent”  refines the definition of consent from “not saying no to sex” to “saying yes to the sex with words or clearly enthusiastic actions.” This is necessary not to harshly punish people caught in seemingly ambiguous situations, but rather to prevent these situations from being as ambiguous in the first place.” http://sgvnowproject.weebly.com/the-affirmative-consent-standard–rape–sexual-assault-education.html
  • Are affirmative consent laws bad/unrealistic/unsexy?

  • “Affirmative consent isn’t based on the idea that every sexual encounter is a rigid contract between two parties. No one is suggesting that college students need to run through a checklist before unbuttoning each other’s shirts. Instead, it’s more about broadly reorienting about how we approach sex in the first place.The current societal script on sex assumes that passivity and silence — essentially, the “lack of a no” — means it’s okay to proceed. That’s on top of the fact that male sexuality has been socially defined as aggressive, something that can result in men feeling entitled to sex, while women have been taught that sex is something that simply happens to them rather than something they’re an active participant in. It’s not hard to imagine how couples end up in ambiguous situations where one partner is not exactly comfortable with going forward, but also not exactly comfortable saying no.”
    www.thinkprogress.org
  • What role do alcohol/drugs play in consent?

    • When assessing whether consent existed for sexual activity, most schools will look for the presence of clear, knowing, and voluntary words or actions that give permission for specific sexual activity. Most schools also prohibit sexual contact with a person who is incapacitated by alcohol, drugs, or another condition, when that incapacitation is known or should have been known. In general, incapacitation is defined as a state where individuals cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent.  Expressed another way, in order to consent effectively to sexual activity, a person must be able to understand the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How with respect to that sexual activity.

 

  • How do I know if I have consent/gave consent?

    •  When assessing whether consent existed for sexual activity, most schools will look for the presence of clear, knowing, and voluntary words or actions that give permission for specific sexual activity. Most schools also prohibit sexual contact with a person who is incapacitated by alcohol, drugs, or another condition, when that incapacitation is known or should have been known. In general, incapacitation is defined as a state where individuals cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent.  Expressed another way, in order to consent effectively to sexual activity, a person must be able to understand Who, What, When, Where, Why and How with respect to that sexual activity.

 

Survivors

Accused

Alcohol/Drugs

Hazing

Further Explanations and Additional Resources

United States Department of Education – Title IX and Sexual Violence

NCAA -Title IX and To Athletics

Know Your IX- Title IX and To K-12 schools

Feminist Majority Foundation- General Information