Title IX: 12 Things That Advocates and Educators Want You To Know

Jan 24, 2018

Click here for background on Title IX and what you can do to protect this law!

We asked a distinguished group of advocates and educators for their comments on the federal equal education law known as Title IX. Here is what they had to say about Title IX’s history and status today (click on any image to start the slideshow):

Background on Title IX

 

What is Title IX? It was an amendment to the Education Amendments of 1972 and 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.”

What’s the controversy? Title IX has been interpreted in different ways by the executive and judicial branches in executive orders and court decisions. Last year two separate executive orders were seen as attempts to 1) weaken Title IX’s ability to protect targets of sexual assault on college campuses and 2) remove protections for Transgender students. The language of these executive orders notwithstanding, the fundamental power of Title IX remains intact, exemplified by a recent court case.

Ash Whitaker, a transgender student in Wisconsin sued his school for denying him access to the boy’s bathroom, alleging that the District’s prohibitive bathroom policy violated Title IX. The Judge in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the student’s favor in May 2017, including this strong language about the rights of transgender students under Title IX:

A policy that requires an individual to use a bathroom that does not conform with his or her gender identity punishes that individual for his or her gender non‐conformance, which in turn violates Title IX. The School District’s policy also subjects Ash, as a transgender student, to different rules, sanctions, and treatment than non‐transgender students, in violation of Title IX. Providing a gender‐neutral alternative is not sufficient to relieve the School District from liability, as it is the policy itself which violates the Act. Further, based on the record here, these gender‐neutral alternatives were not true alternatives because of their distant location to Ash’s classrooms and the increased stigmatization they caused Ash. Rather, the School District only continued to treat Ash differently when it provided him with access to these gender‐neutral bathrooms because he was the only student given access.

On January 9, 2018, the student was awarded $800,000 in a settlement by the district, leaving the judge’s decision standing.

What can I do?

The Department of Education has announced a “Notice and Comment” process in relation to an interim guidance related to sexual assault on campuses. The Know Your IX website can keep you abreast of the comment process.

You can also spread the word that Title IX is still alive and kicking. Help students, educators and parents know what Title IX can do for them.