Everything You Need to Know About Title IX
Are you or your child preparing to head back to school? Do you know your rights under Title IX? Or maybe you’ve heard about it and you’d like to know what it is and how it works.
If that’s the case, don’t worry. This article will shed light on the basics of Title IX.
What is Title IX?
It is a federal civil rights law. It prohibits institutions of higher learning from discriminating against students and their employees based on gender.
Initially, the law sought to ensure equal sporting opportunities for all regardless of their gender. Today, the Title IX law applies to all forms of assaults and sexual harassment.
The federal government uses Title IX to force colleges and universities to promptly and effectively deal with sexual misconduct or sexual harassment cases. If a school fails to prevent or doesn’t act against sexual harassment, it loses all the federal funding.
Why is Title IX Important?
The law doesn’t just apply to students. Graduate students, faculty staff, and visitors are also protected against sexual misconduct or sexual harassment under this law. It applies to all secondary schools, school districts, and private or public elementary schools.
Further, the law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Therefore, no one should discriminate against you whether you're transgender, gay, or lesbian.
Who Can File a Title IX Complaint?
Any person who believes there's an act of discrimination against any person or group based on sex in an activity or program receiving ED financial support. The complainant in a Title IX investigation need not be the actual victim of the said discrimination. However, such a person may feel affected by the hostile sexual environment.
A Title IX complaint should be sent to the OCR enforcement office serving the state where the alleged discrimination takes place.
When Should One File a Title IX Case?
The complainant must file the case within 180 days of the alleged sexual misconduct. However, the Enforcement Office Director may extend this deadline for a good and justifiable cause.
Before filing the complaint with the OCR, the complainant may choose to use the school grievance procedure to resolve the case. However, this is not mandatory. If not satisfied, the complainant can still file a Title IX complaint to the OCR within 60 days after the judgment by the school grievance process.
What Should a Title IX Complaint Include?
A complainant letter should be detailed as possible. It should indicate the following:
· The name and contact details of the complainant
· The name of the offending institution or agency
· The name and contact details of a person who can shed more light on the case
· Background information on the alleged discrimination
· Any identifying information
It is worth noting that OCR keeps all the details regarding your case confidential. The only exception is where the OCR is required by law to shed light on the case by providing relevant information.
Remember, Title IX complaints are formal. As such, use a language that reflects this. Well, this doesn’t mean you resort to legalese terms, No! Instead, use formal language to separately describe every discrimination action. If possible, engage a lawyer to prepare the complaint.
The Right to Fairness
Title IX law, like the constitution, recognizes that every complainant has a right to due process. The guidance requires colleges and universities to be supportive of a student who's been discriminated against. It also requires the institution to follow due process and accord the accused person a fair hearing.
Therefore, the schools should be fair and impartial in their proceedings. Both parties should be allowed to effectively defend or prosecute their case. Further, the parties have a right to engage a Title IX attorney as an advisor throughout the proceedings.