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Myth #6: Federal Law Does Not Apply to Schoolyard Bullying

In last week’s Washington Post, Susan M. Swearer, Co-director of the Bullying Research Network, discussed five major myths about bullies and bullying. To her list of five, (including “Most bullying now happens online” and “Bullying ends when you grow up”), we’d like to add one more: “Federal law does not apply to schoolyard bullying.”

Many states, districts and schools are joining a growing movement to combat pernicious bullying by enacting policies and programs that address this type of harassment in classrooms and campuses across the country. Yet bullying is not exclusively a local issue. As the Department of Education reminded educators last month, federal civil rights law mandates that schools prevent and remedy harassment and bullying based on race, national origin, sex, disability and age.

Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments specifically requires that recipients of federal education funds prevent discrimination based on sex. This means that when a female student suffers because she is constantly called a “slut” or when a male student is repeatedly mocked for interests considered “feminine,” their schools may be failing to meet their legal obligations under Title IX.

To better understand students’ rights under Title IX, check out our new resource, "It’s Your Education". This easy-to-use tool provides information to students at all levels of education by laying out the key protections under Title IX and providing tips for students on what to do if they suspect that they are experiencing discrimination in school.

Policies and laws may vary around the country, but federal law does not.  Students need to be educated about their rights to ensure that they receive the education they deserve.

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