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Title IX

When it Comes to Campus Assault, Safety is Not Only in the Eye of the Bystander

There’s no way around this — it’s a fact that sexual assault is happening on college campuses across the country. Lawmakers, administrators, and activists have debated any number of ways to curb this epidemic and keep students truly safe. Read more »

New Report Shows How Girls of Color Are Doubly Disadvantaged in Access to School Sports Opportunities

Venus and Serena Williams, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Jessica Mendoza, Michelle Wie... The sheer excellence of these female athletes of color might lead one to think that the playing field is finally level, for all girls and women. But the sad truth is that high schools across the country still do not give girls equal opportunities to play sports, and girls of color are doubly disadvantaged. That’s the main message of a report released today by the National Women’s Law Center and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, which presents new data in a new way to highlight athletic disparities on the basis of race and gender.  

Because data on sports opportunities, or spots on teams, are not available by gender and race together, the report compares the opportunities provided by heavily minority schools (where 10 percent or less of the students are white) and heavily white schools (where 90 percent or more of the students are white). The major findings of the report are: Read more »

Title IX Enforcement Funding Gets a Boost in the President's Budget

In 1973, legendary female tennis player Billie Jean King faced taunts and disbelief when she played Bobby Riggs in the famously televised “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match. 

This week, Serena Williams won her 19th grand slam title.

Today we celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day. We are reminded this week how far girls and women have come in sports since 1972 when Title IX was passed: women’s participation in collegiate athletics climbed from less than 16 percent in 1972 to 44 percent in the 2010-11 academic year.  Though women’s sports participation is far from equal, last year girls’ participation in high school sports hit a record-high: girls make up almost 42 percent of high school athletes. Read more »

Resolution of Title IX Complaint Against Harvard Law School Will Help Schools Understand How to Properly Address Harassment

As 2014 drew to a close, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued its resolution of a complaint against Harvard Law School (HLS) for failing to properly address sexual harassment and assault. The resolution is comprehensive and reflects OCR’s work to vigorously enforce Title IX in our nation’s schools.

Specifically, OCR found that HLS failed to respond appropriately to two specific complaints of sexual assault, noting significant delays between the filing of one complaint and its resolution and the exclusion of the complainant from an appeal that resulted in a reversal of the decision to dismiss the alleged assailant. It also found that the law school failed to train all decision makers to meet the requirements of Title IX and that its Title IX policies and procedures did not comply with Title IX’s requirements for prompt and equitable resolution of complaints.

Among other things, the resolution agreement that Harvard entered into with OCR requires the following: Read more »

Guidance from the Departments of Ed & Justice Will Enforce Education Rights of Girls in the Juvenile Justice System

Last week, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (DOJ) released a joint guidance letter reminding juvenile justice residential facilities of their obligations under Title IX [PDF] and other civil rights laws to provide equal access to quality educational opportunities for confined youth.

The guidance makes it clear that under Title IX, all facilities that receive federal funds must offer equal educational opportunities without regard to sex. That means youth detention centers must make sure girls have equal access to career and technical programs and that facilities cannot rely on gender stereotypes when determining what opportunities to make available (e.g., automotive repair classes only for boys and cosmetology only for girls). The guidance also says that under Title IX, facilities must protect committed youth from sexual harassment and violence regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or conformity with sex stereotypes. Read more »

Sexual Assault and Title IX: Not Just a Concern for Colleges

From congressional and White House recommendations on reducing campus sexual assaults earlier this year to the White House’s unveiling this week of a new prevention campaign, the problem of sexual assault on college campuses has been receiving an unprecedented level of attention of late. Shining the spotlight on a problem that affects the educational opportunities of so many young women across the country is important. But we must not forget that sexual harassment and violence is also an all too present reality for many girls in elementary and secondary schools. And Title IX – the civil rights law that is not just about sports but also requires all schools that receive federal funding to address sexual harassment – protects these K-12 students too. Read more »

The Top 10 Questions to Ask About Your Title IX Rights on a College Visit

‘Tis the season for college visiting. As campuses across America are flooded with high school students this summer, there are some hard-hitting, crucial questions to keep in mind—and they may help to give you better perspective on where you could spend some of the most formative years of your life. Although it might not occur to many prospective students and their parents, one of those questions is how a school responds to reports of sexual harassment and assault. While it’s been in the news a lot lately, campus sexual assault isn’t just a hot topic or fodder for politicians and pundits, but rather a harsh reality for far too many. The more you know about how each school responds to it, the better.

And taking steps to prevent and respond to these acts isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the law.  Title IX requires all federally funded schools to have policies and procedures in place to help educate the community about sexual harassment and assault and to promptly investigate reported incidents. Read more »

Repeat Offender: NWLC Files Complaint Against Georgia School District for Ongoing Pregnancy Discrimination

Today, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) filed a complaint against Georgia’s Washington-Wilkes Comprehensive High School (WWCHS) and Wilkes County Schools for violating Title IX, the federal civil rights law that protects students from sex discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination. The complaint alleges that WWCHS is violating Title IX in a number of ways, such as excluding pregnant students from receiving homebound instruction services made available to students with other medical conditions, and refusing to excuse pregnancy-related absences.

The complaint, filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s regional Office for Civil Rights in Atlanta, details the discrimination experienced by Mikelia Seals, a WWCHS student who was pregnant during the 2013-2014 school year. Mikelia was seven months pregnant when her doctor told her she needed to go on bed rest because she was at risk of premature delivery. Mikelia and her mother then asked Mikelia’s guidance counselor for homebound instruction. The guidance counselor told Mikelia that WWCHS doesn’t provide homebound instruction services (not true). So Mikelia did the best she could with the work she got from her individual teachers – that is, until the principal told her she would not get any credit for that work or for the semester because she had exceeded the allowable number of unexcused absences. She never had the chance to finish the semester and never received a report card. The new school year starts in a couple of weeks and she is worried that she will not be able to graduate in Spring 2015 as scheduled. She hopes to go to nursing school after she graduates. Read more »

Delaware Updates Homebound Instruction Regulations to Comply with Title IX

On July 1, 2014, Delaware released a proposed update to its regulations regarding homebound instruction, and although it looks like a small change, it’s an important one, folks. Until now, Delaware’s regulations surrounding homebound instruction barred students with “normal” pregnancies from accessing homebound instruction services. Students with pregnancy complications (or, I suppose, “non-normal” pregnancies, though in my mind I still can’t figure out what “normal" means) were only able to access homebound instruction for six weeks, even though such a limit didn’t apply to any other students using homebound instruction.

Happily, once Delaware understood that their regulations violated Title IX and made it harder for pregnant students to continue their schoolwork, they worked quickly to change their regulations. The National Women’s Law Center brought the problem to the attention of the Delaware Department of Education and advocated that the policy be fixed; the proposed changes are necessary for Delaware to comply with Title IX. Read more »

Title IX Stands With Jada, Too

“There’s no point in hiding. Everybody has already seen my face and my body, but that’s not what I am and who I am.”

These are the words of courageous 16-year-old Jada. Jada was drugged and raped at a party of a fellow high school student. She had no recollection of the event, but became aware of it when friends began texting her to ask if she was okay. She then realized that photos and videos of her assault were going viral on social media. As if that wasn’t horrible enough, people started mocking her assault by posting photos, tweets, and videos imitating Jada while she was unconscious, using the hashtag #jadapose.

 With incredible bravery, Jada is speaking out and saying she will not hide and that she is angry about what has happened to her. And Jada’s not the only one. Thousands are taking to social media to express their outrage, show support for Jada, and challenge the all-too-common rape culture. With the hashtag #jadacounterpose, people are saying they stand with Jada.

Jada, Title IX stands with you, too. Read more »