Title IX

True or False: Title IX pertains to ensuring equitable access to resources and programs (such as athletics) with respect to gender.

Reveal the answer

Partially true. Title IX does require equitable access to programs and resources for all students, and is often referred to in the context of athletics....but there's a lot more to it.

Title IX is referred to more commonly in the news today as it relates to schools' obligation to ensure that students attend school is an environment that is free from sexual harassment, sexual violence, and sexual abuse, whether perpetrated by another student or by an adult staff member. Under the law, a school must respond when it receives a complaint or reasonably should know that a student has been the victim of sexual harassment or sexual violence.

New for 2020

New Definition of Sexual Harassment (3 prongs):

  • Quid pro quo (by an employee); OR
  • Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and denies a person equal access to the institution's educaiton program or activity; OR
  • Sexual assault, including dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking.

Informal Resolution Process Available:

  • The school district may offer the Complainant the option of exploring informal resolution of the complaint, instead of a formal complaint.
  • At the K-12 level, this could look like peer mediation, discussions facilitated by a school administrator and school adjustment counselor, etc.

Investigation Report:

  • Prior to final determination, each party must be provided with a copy of the Investigation Report and an opportunity to respond.
  • In responding, each party may submit additional evidence for consideration including questions to be asked of witnesses

As a staff member:

  • You must report any knowledge or suspicion of sexual harassment, sexual violence, or sexual abuse to your supervisor or the district's Title IX Coordinator.
  • You must remember that no relationship between an adult staff member and a student is private -- the student's parent and the school as an institution are also part of that relationship. The adult staff member is always an authority figure who is responsible for creating clear authoritative boundaries.
  • You must maintain appropriate professional boundaries with students at all times. Though this may seem apparent, please consider the following:
    • Sexual harassment by school employees can include unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, including by not limited to sexual activity.
    • Title IX's prohibition against sexual harassment generally does not extend to legitimate nonsexual touching or other nonsexual conduct. But in some circumstances, nonsexual conduct may take on sexual connotations and rise to the level of sexual harassment. For example, a teacher or coach repeatedly hugging and putting his or her arms around students under inappropriate circumstances could create a hostile environment.

Schools are under a great deal of scrutiny with respect to the above issues. Our responsibility to protect students from harm is fundamental. If you have any questions about Title IX, please contact the principal or the Head of School.