Title IX

Overview

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally-funded education program or activity. Title IX applies to all educational public and private institutions that receive federal funds, including colleges and universities, community colleges, K-12 public school districts and public charter schools.

The scope of Title IX has substantially expanded since originally enacted. It is no longer focused mainly on gender equity in sports. Today, Title IX prohibits sex and gender based discrimination, sexual harassment (including sexting and cyberbullying), sexual misconduct (including rape and sexual assault), dating and domestic violence and stalking.

Title IX (and related laws) require educational institutions to: (1) implement policies and procedures addressing sexual discrimination; (2) conduct preventive training to all students, staff and faculty; and (3) promptly respond to complaints of prohibited conduct with investigations and other proper steps, including remedies, as appropriate. Institutions must implement emergency interim measures in Title IX matters, as needed. This may include removing from student housing a student posing a sexual violence threat, removing a faculty member from teaching during an investigation of a student’s sexual assault claim, or issuing a No Contact Order between two students where one has been accused of dating violence against the other.

Due in part to recent social media movements, educational institutions nationwide have experienced an increase of Title IX complaints. Many Title IX offices are facing new scrutiny for handling reported sexual harassment and sexual misconduct claims. In addition, the specific requirements for Title IX are in flux. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is in the process of reforming Title IX’s regulations and Title IX compliance protocols are certain to change in the foreseeable future.

For now, OCR has issued interim guidance allowing changes to key features of Title IX programs, including a higher standard of proof and more lax deadlines for investigations and expanded informal resolution options. New regulations will likely include more substantive changes. Notwithstanding the current regulatory uncertainties, educational institutions must maintain an environment with zero tolerance for sex discrimination.

Dykema attorneys have decades of experience providing educational institutions with compliance guidance, including:

  • Reviewing and updating sexual harassment and sexual misconduct policies;
  • Providing preventive educational training for students, faculty and staff regarding policy requirements, mandatory reporting for employees and real life examples sensitive to vulnerable populations (i.e., disabled students and LGBTQ community);

  • Specialized training for senior leadership, Title IX compliance staff, Athletic Department faculty and staff, and Student Conduct and Housing staff;
  • Counseling on a wide array of related areas, e.g., student conduct and discipline, privacy, FERPA, free speech rules, bullying, Title IX’s intersection with criminal law, and discipline for faculty and staff in unionized and non-unionized environments;
  • Crisis counseling for internal matters or matters in the media;
  • Preparing responsive materials in OCR investigations and mediating OCR complaints; and
  • Representing institutions before state and federal courts.

Speaking Engagements