If you work in education, you’ve certainly heard of Title IX. But how long has it been since you reviewed or trained for compliance? Are your employees aware of all of the Title IX mandates and requirements to keep your organization in compliance? Many organizations print out Title IX guidebooks for new employees that ultimately get lost in the shuffle during the training process. However, Title IX is vital to most educational organizations’ success and has paved the way for gender equality in education. Because of Title IX, all students, regardless of gender identity or gender expression, have the right to educational experiences that can enhance their lives. So, should we really treat Title IX compliance training like just another packet in the on-boarding process?
In 2020, Title IX will be 48 years old. As a wide-reaching and massively important educational law, it is important to periodically revisit the basics of Title IX, who is affected by it, and why Title IX continues to shape our educational environments to this day. If you receive federal funding for educational programs, it is crucial that your organization is compliant with Title IX and that your employees understand their roles and responsibilities.
Understanding Title IX
Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. Although the law itself is relatively short, it covers a broad scope of offenses related to sexual harassment and sexual violence.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 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.
Compliance with Title IX is essentially a contract between the United States government and the educational institutions that receive funding from the government, whether at the federal, state, or local level. The purpose of Title IX is to prevent discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
The main objective of Title IX is to prevent the use of federal money supporting any type of sex discrimination in education programs as well as to provide individuals effective protections against such discriminatory practices. Beyond traditional educational institutions such as colleges, universities, secondary and elementary schools, Title IX also applies to any other education or training program that has received federal financial assistance.
In order to be in compliance, all educational institutions must have designated Title IX coordinators who are responsible for working with their organization to draft policies and procedures that are in compliance with Title IX. These coordinators are responsible for monitoring continued compliance training, handling grievance procedures, appropriately distributing non-discrimination policies and procedures, etc., including the following:
- Notices of non-discrimination
- Grievance procedures
- Employee training
- Resolution to complaints
- Equitable complaint processes
- Retaliation protections
- Compliance reporting
Who Title IX Affects
Title IX has a wide-reaching scope when it comes to agencies and individuals affected. Any program that receives funding from the U.S. Department of Education, including federal, state, and local programs are required to adhere to Title IX protections and practices. Title IX currently affects 16,500 local school districts, 7,000 post secondary institutions, charter schools, for-profit schools, libraries, and museums as well as vocational rehabilitation agencies. Title IX applies to all 50 states, Washington D.C., and U.S. territories and possessions.
At its core, Title IX serves to protect students, employees, applicants for admission and employment, and other persons such as staff members of any given federally funded educational program or institution from all forms of sex discrimination. Key areas in which funding recipients have Title IX obligations include recruitment, admissions, counseling, financial assistance programs, student athletics, sex-based harassment, treatment of pregnant and parenting students, discipline and conduct, single-sex education, and employment.
Essentially, any person involved in an educational program that receives federal funding, regardless of whether they are a student, faculty, staff, applicant, etc. of that institute is protected from discrimination on the basis of any sex or gender-related aspect.
Why Title IX Matters
Historically speaking, Title IX has roots in the women’s rights movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Sex bias and discrimination became major public policy concerns as women began entering the workforce in record numbers. As inequalities in the workforce caused rates of class action lawsuits against workplaces and educational institutions to increase, advocacy organizations formed in response, which brought attention to the widespread issue of sex bias in colleges and universities. In 1972, Title IX was introduced in the Senate by Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana who stressed the importance of eliminating educational inequities. After several months, Title IX was passed as a part of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.
For context, in 1972, just two percent of school athletic budgets allowed for scholarships for women. In 2010, 40 percent of school athletic budgets allowed for scholarships for women. Furthermore, prior to Title IX, many schools refused to admit women. Thanks to Title IX, improvements are being made in how institutions make room for non-male students but there is still progress to be made.
Currently, there are hundreds of ongoing Title IX investigations relating to about 200 colleges and universities across the country. Although Title IX applies to more than just post-secondary education, these cases are the most commonly reported. Such investigations can harm the reputation of an institution. In today’s world, activists increasingly turn to media in order to tell their stories of Title IX violations in cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Institutions can lose funding for Title IX violations, so it is important that compliance is rigorously maintained. A person harmed by an institution’s failure to comply with Title IX may sue the institution. And, beyond monetary losses, such lawsuits can negatively affect the entire community to which the non-compliant institution or program belongs.
Key Facts to Remember
Title IX protects students of all genders. Although the reaches of this law are broad and tricky to digest, here are nine key facts to always keep in mind when keeping up with your organization’s Title IX compliance:
- Title IX prohibits sexual discrimination of any type in all educational programs or activities that receive federal funding of any type
- Title IX requires that schools provide equal opportunities to play sports regardless of gender
- Students are not the only people who receive mandated protections in Title IX. Education programs and activities may not discriminate against faculty, staff, volunteers, etc.
- Title IX protects students from harassment from teachers, other students, school staff and visitors
- Title IX protects pregnant or parenting individuals from being removed from classes and other school-related activities
- Additionally, pregnant or parenting individuals cannot be barred from sports or lose sport-related funding due to pregnancy or parenting status
- Gender cannot play a role in whether or not a person is eligible to participate in career and technical education, such as construction and other historically gendered trades. Title IX mandates that all genders receive equal opportunities in such fields
- Title IX requires that educational programs and institutions adopt and disseminate policies in regard to sexual harassment and discrimination. Each organization must have detailed grievances procedures and a Title IX coordinator to oversee compliance
- Under Title IX, organizations cannot retaliate against students or employees who report violations
The Consequences of Title IX Violations
Beyond losing funding and damaging your community, Title IX violations can have serious consequences. An organization can be found out of compliance when they inadequately investigate cases of gender-specific violence, including sexual assault, stalking, harassment, discrimination, etc. The following penalties, aside from the loss of federal funds, can result from Title IX violations or noncompliance cases:
- Costly court cases
- Payments of restitution for damages to the affected individual(s)
- Costly program changes as required by court outcomes
- Attorney fees
- Negative impacts to reputation
It is important to thoughtfully consider how Title IX may affect the funding your organization receives. As managers and administrators, you have a responsibility to ensure that all of your employees are familiar with the basics of Title IX, the mandates that it provides, and the affected individuals. KnowledgeCity’s Title IX Compliance training video course provides a convenient breakdown of Title IX, preparing you with the necessary assurance to remain within compliance.
Just because your organization has not received any complaints does not mean you should avoid Title IX compliance training. It only takes one instance of non-compliance to affect your organization’s reputation and funding. Take proactive steps today to keep your employees in the know when it comes to Title IX compliance.
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