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What is Title IX?
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities in federally funded schools at all levels. If any part of a school district or college receives any Federal funds for any purpose, all of the operations of the district or college are covered by Title IX.
Title IX protects students, employees, applicants for admission and employment, and other persons from all forms of sex discrimination, including discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity. All students (as well as other persons) at recipient institutions are protected by Title IX—regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, part- or full-time status, disability, race, or national origin—in all aspects of a recipient’s educational programs and activities.
PK-12 District Responsibility for Compliance
As part of their obligations under Title IX, all recipients of Federal financial assistance must designate at least one employee to coordinate their efforts to comply with and carry out their responsibilities under Title IX and must notify all students and employees of that employee’s contact information. This employee is generally referred to as the Title IX coordinator.
The essence of Title IX is that an institution may not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently any person on the basis of sex unless expressly authorized to do so under Title IX or the Department’s implementing regulations. When a recipient is considering relying on one of the exceptions to this general rule (several of which are discussed below), Title IX coordinators should be involved at every stage and work with school officials and legal counsel to help determine whether the exception is applicable and, if so, properly executed.
The District Title IX Coordinator
Although the recipient is ultimately responsible for ensuring that it complies with Title IX and other laws, the Title IX coordinator is an integral part of a recipient’s systematic approach to ensuring nondiscrimination, including a nondiscriminatory environment. Title IX coordinators can be effective agents for ensuring gender equity within their institutions only when they are provided with the appropriate authority and support necessary to coordinate their institution’s Title IX compliance, including access to all of their institution’s relevant information and resources.
One of the most important facets of the Title IX coordinator’s responsibility is helping to ensure the recipient’s compliance with Title IX’s administrative requirements. The Title IX coordinator must have knowledge of the recipient’s policies and procedures on sex discrimination and should be involved in the drafting and revision of such policies and procedures to help to ensure that they comply with the requirements of Title IX.
The coordinator may help the recipient by coordinating the implementation and administration of the recipient’s procedures for resolving Title IX complaints, including educating the school community on how to file a complaint alleging a violation of Title IX, investigating complaints, working with law enforcement when necessary, and ensuring that complaints are resolved promptly and appropriately. The coordinator should also coordinate the recipient’s response to all complaints involving possible sex discrimination to monitor outcomes, identify patterns, and assess effects on the campus climate. Such coordination can help an institution avoid Title IX violations, particularly violations involving sexual harassment and violence, by preventing incidents from recurring or becoming systemic problems. Title IX does not specify who should determine the outcome of Title IX complaints or the actions the school will take in response to such complaints. The Title IX coordinator could play this role, provided there are no conflicts of interest, but does not have to.
The Title IX coordinator should also assist the institution in developing a method to survey the school climate and coordinate the collection and analysis of information from that survey. Further, the coordinator should monitor students’ participation in athletics and across academic fields to identify programs with disproportionate enrollment based on sex and ensure that sex discrimination is not causing any disproportionality or otherwise negatively affecting a student’s access to equal educational opportunities.
The Title IX coordinator should provide training and technical assistance on school policies related to sex discrimination and develop programs, such as assemblies or college trainings, on issues related to Title IX to assist the recipient in making sure that all members of the school community, including students and staff, are aware of their rights and obligations under Title IX. To perform this responsibility effectively, the coordinator should regularly assess the adequacy of current training opportunities and programs and propose improvements as appropriate.
A recipient can designate more than one Title IX coordinator, which may be particularly helpful in larger school districts, colleges, and universities. It may also be helpful to designate specific employees to coordinate certain Title IX compliance issues (e.g., gender equity in academic programs or athletics, harassment, or complaints from employees). If a recipient has multiple Title IX coordinators, then it should designate one lead Title IX coordinator who has ultimate oversight responsibility.
Because Title IX prohibits discrimination in all aspects of a recipient’s education programs and activities, the Title IX coordinator should work closely with many different members of the school community, such as administrators, counselors, athletic directors, non-professional counselors or advocates, and legal counsel. Although these employees may not be formally designated as Title IX coordinators, the Title IX coordinator may need to work with them because their job responsibilities relate to the recipient’s obligations under Title IX. The recipient should ensure that all employees whose work relates to Title IX communicate with one another and that these employees have the support they need to ensure consistent practices and enforcement of the recipient’s policies and compliance with Title IX. The coordinator should also be available to meet with the school community, including other employees, students, and parents or guardians, as needed to discuss any issues related to Title IX.
For more information about the role of the Title IX coordinator, please review:
- 34 C.F.R. § 106.8(a)
- Dear Colleague Letter: Title IX Coordinators (April 24, 2015)
- Letter to Title IX Coordinators (April 24, 2015)
Links to all Dear Colleague Letters, in chronological order from oldest to most current, issued by U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights since 2011.
More Title IX Resources
Title IX-Compliant Policies Against Sexual Harassment - A checklist for K-12 schools to ensure their policies are consistent with the new Title IX mandates from United Educators.