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Find Your Title IX Coordinator on This Map
Jun 24th, 2016 by

All K–12 schools that receive federal funds must designate at least one employee to coordinate their efforts to comply with and carry out their responsibilities under Title IX. These Title IX coordinators ensure that every person affected by sex discrimination in schools — students, parents, and employees — are aware of their legal rights, including how to file a complaint.

 

Find Your Title IX Coordinator on This Map

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How Teachers and Coaches Can Defend Against Sexual Harassment
Jun 15th, 2016 by

Katz Marshall & Banks LLP

USA June 14 2016

Over forty years ago, Congress enacted Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) to eliminate sex discrimination in educational institutions. Though much progress has been made since Title IX’s enactment, gender equity issues continue to plague colleges and universities. While responsibility for ensuring full and effective compliance with Title IX requires institutional support and engagement at all levels, teachers and coaches play a particularly important role in ensuring effective enforcement of Title IX, as they are often in the best position to identify discrimination and bring it to the attention of administrators.

Unfortunately, however, it is not uncommon for teachers or coaches to face pushback from their educational institutions if and when they complain about sex discrimination. While such retaliatory acts can be intimidating, teachers and coaches should not be deterred from making Title IX complaints because of fear of retaliation. Indeed, because reporting incidents of discrimination is so vital to Title IX enforcement, the Supreme Court has held that Title IX’s private right action encompasses suits for retaliation – see Jackson v. Birmingham Bd. of Educ., 544 U.S. 167, 174 (2005). That means that institutions covered under Title IX are prohibited from terminating or otherwise discriminating against a teacher or coach because he or she opposed or protested sex discrimination.

Though the statute of limitations within which you must bring a Title IX retaliation claim varies by state, all Title IX retaliation complaints require proof of three elements that teachers or coaches considering filing a complaint should be aware of. Stated simply, these elements are:

read more ………..

 

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Obama administration links bathroom bills to Title IX funds
May 13th, 2016 by

  • bathroom sign
CNN

(CNN) —The Obama administration will issue guidance Friday directing public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity.

A joint letter from the Departments of Education and Justice will go out to schools on Friday with guidelines to ensure that “transgender students enjoy a supportive and nondiscriminatory school environment,” the Obama administration said on Thursday.

The announcement comes amid heated debate over transgender rights in schools and public life, which includes a legal standoff between the administration and North Carolina over its controversial House Bill 2. The guidance goes beyond the bathroom issue, touching upon privacy rights, education records and sex-segregated athletics, all but guaranteeing transgender students the right to identify in school as they choose.

“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. “This guidance gives administrators, teachers and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies.”

The letter does not carry the force of law but the message was clear: Fall in line or face loss of federal funding.

Justice and Education Department officials have repeatedly made clear that under their interpretation of Title IX, the federal anti-discrimination law in education, schools receiving federal funds may not discriminate based on a student’s sex, including a student’s transgender status.

“The guidance makes clear that both federal agencies treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX,” the administration said Thursday.

LGBT groups praised the announcement, calling it a validation of transgender rights and a repudiation of so-called “bathroom bills” that ban people from using public bathrooms that do not correspond with their biological sex.

“These groundbreaking guidelines not only underscore the Obama administration’s position that discriminating against transgender students is flat-out against the law, but they provide public school districts with needed and specific guidance guaranteeing that transgender students should be using facilities consistent with their gender identity,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.

“This is a truly significant moment not only for transgender young people but for all young people, sending a message that every student deserves to be treated fairly and supported by their teachers and schools.”

The letter emphasizes the departments’ shared position that schools must treat transgender students the way they want to be treated based on their gender identity, regardless of how others may feel about it.

Schools should let transgender students use bathrooms, locker rooms and other sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity, according to the guidance. Staff should address transgender students by their preferred names and pronouns. Schools cannot require students to have a medical diagnosis, undergo any medical treatment, or produce a birth certificate before treating them consistent with their gender identity, the guidance states.

“As is consistently recognized in civil rights cases, the desire to accommodate others’ discomfort cannot justify a policy that singles out and disadvantages a particular class of students to ensure that all students, including transgender students, can attend school in an environment free from discrimination based on sex,” the letter says.

The guidance takes the same approach to the bathroom issue: A school may provide gender-separated facilities but it must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity. If a school opts for individual stalls it must make them available to all students.

U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said the letter comes in response to request from schools and parents seeking guidance.

“This guidance further clarifies what we’ve said repeatedly — that gender identity is protected under Title IX,” he said. “We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence.

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Dept. of Education: Yes, Title IX Protects Trans Students
May 13th, 2016 by

The Department of Education is poised to release on Friday its most detailed guidelines to date explaining the obligations that schools receiving public funding have to their transgender students.

These obligations include respecting the gender identity of transgender students by using the student’s preferred name and pronouns, and ensuring them access to sports teams, educational opportunities, and sex-segregated facilities that correspond with their gender identity, according to a draft of the DOE letter obtained by The Advocate. 

The letter, which will be sent Friday to public K-12 schools nationwide, as well as to colleges and universities that receive federal funding, plainly defines a school’s responsibilities to its trans students under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in schools that receive any public funding.

“This prohibition encompasses discrimination based on a student’s gender identity, including discrimination based on a student’s transgender status,” reads the letter. “For purposes of the Department’s enforcement of Title IX, as explained in more detail in this letter, a student’s sex is determined by the student’s gender identity.”

The document further affirms that schools must use a student’s preferred name and pronouns, regardless of what is listed on the student’s official school records or government-issued identification. It notes that transgender individuals — especially young people — are frequently unable to attain updated legal documents, either because the state they live in does not allow such changes, because the student’s parents or guardians are not supportive of their identity, or because updating such documents is often time-consuming, costly, and frequently not an option available to people under the age of 18.

The letter, signed by DOE officials and members of the U.S. Department of Justice, is deemed a “significant guidance document,” though it is not legally binding. It builds on legal interpretations of Title IX’s trans inclusions long advanced by the Obama Administration, and marks the most direct instruction the federal agency has provided to schools since it issued a (much shorter) memo on the same issue in 2014.

The guidance comes in the same week that U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch delivered a historic speech affirming the civil rights of transgender Americans, promising that the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration will use its full force to put a stop to anti-transgender discrimination. Lynch (pictured above with Education Secretary Arne Duncan) also announced during that speech that the DOJ had filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against North Carolina for its discriminatory law known as House Bill 2, which, among other things, bars transgender people from using restrooms and locker rooms in government-run spaces that correspond with their gender identity.

The letter goes on to define several basic terms regarding transgender identities, many of which have been widely misinterpreted in the wake of controversial laws in North Carolina and Mississippi, which bar transgender people from using public facilities that match their gender identities.

The draft letter’s “terminology” section reads:

“Gender identity refers to an individual’s internal sense of gender.  A person’s gender identity may be different from or the same as the person’s sex assigned at birth.

Sex assigned at birth refers to the sex designation recorded on an infant’s birth certificate should such a record be provided at birth.

Gender expression refers to how individuals represent their gender to others, often through appearance or behavior.

Transgender describes those individuals whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. A transgender male is someone who identifies as male but was assigned the sex of female at birth; a transgender female is someone who identifies as female but was assigned the sex of male at birth.”

The letter primarily focuses on the implementation of Title IX’s protections against sex-based discrimination in educational settings, stressing that the Department of Education “treats a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for the purposes of Title IX.”

“This means that a school must not treat transgender students differently from the way it treats other students of the same sex,” continues the draft letter. “For example, a school must treat transgender female students the same way it treats other female students.”

Federal funding, including financial aid, is generally tied to a school’s compliance with Title IX, except in cases where a school has obtained a waiver — often seeking a religious exemption. As a condition of receiving those federal funds, schools must guarantee that they will not “exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently on the basis of sex” any student attending the institution.

The letter instructs that a school must accept and affirm a student’s gender identity from the moment administrators are notified by the student’s parent or guardian. This affirmation includes providing equal access to the appropriate sex-segregated activities and spaces, including locker rooms and bathrooms.

Crucially, the letter notes that schools may not require any student to undergo any clinical, surgical, or mental health treatment as a condition of the school accepting the student’s affirmed gender identity. Schools also may not require that transgender students produce an updated birth certificate that reflects their gender identity as a condition of having that identity respected on campus. Such requirements constitute a violation of Title IX, the draft letter explains.

Further, the Department is clear that objections by other students, parents, or faculty to a transgender student’s identity are not legally sufficient reasons to deny that student equal access. In responding to such objections, the school cannot place “a greater burden on transgender students than other students.” Schools may address concerns about privacy in locker rooms or bathrooms by allowing all students access to alternate facilities, like single-stall restrooms, however a school may not require that only the transgender student use a separate facility.

“Discomfort with transgender people expressed by anyone, inside or outside of the school community, cannot justify denying transgender students equal access to educational programs and activities or treating transgender students inconsistent with their gender identity,” reads the draft letter.

The letter goes on to outline “common issues” that schools and administrators may face when working to support transgender students, including ensuring a “safe and nondiscriminatory environment,” using correct names and pronouns, protecting a transgender student’s privacy (including their birth name and sex assigned at birth) and ensuring equal access to sex-segregated activities and facilities.

While Title IX does allow for sex-segregated facilities, athletic teams, housing, and in some cases, entire schools, the draft letter is adamant that transgender students be granted access to such spaces that correspond with their gender identity.

In an example that seems pulled from the headlines of a drawn-out legal battle in Palatine, Illinois, where a transgender girl was barred from using the girl’s locker room and bathroom, and instead required to use a separate staff bathroom to change for class, the letter explains:

“A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity (e.g., a school may not require a transgender female student to use the male restroom) or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so. A school may, however, make individual-user facilities available to all students who seek additional privacy.

“For example, the Department may find a violation where a school requires a transgender student to use the nurse’s office to change for gym class. In that scenario, one nondiscriminatory way in which to accommodate any privacy concern would be to allow the transgender student to access the locker room consistent with the student’s gender identity and, if necessary, make other arrangements to increase privacy for all students without isolating or burdening the transgender student, such as rearranging locker assignments, hanging privacy curtains, or providing all students with access to individual-user alternatives.”

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Blue for Boys, White With Flowers for Girls: When Commencement Is an Exercise in Discrimination
May 9th, 2016 by

Libby Ryan and Jordan D’Addeo are unlikely rabble-rousers. Both are A students and highly involved in their school and community. Libby is a four-time All-State musician and principal oboist in Connecticut’s All-State Band, winner of the Daughters of the American Revolution Citizenship Award, Class of 2016 Treasurer, a member of the National Honor Society, and a member of the student council who has donated over 400 hours of community service with various organizations in the area. Jordan is the class salutatorian with near-perfect SAT scores, winner of the Rensselaer Medal, National Merit Finalist, AP Scholar with Honor, and captain of the high school Quiz Bowl and math teams. They both love their school, their teachers, their friends, and their school administrators. And they are weeks away from graduating from Nathan Hale-Ray High School in East Haddam, Connecticut.

But as they prepare to celebrate with their classmates, they find themselves up against a tradition that distracts from the achievements that graduation is meant to recognize. By tradition, boys wear blue gowns at graduation; girls wear white. Also by tradition, boys and girls will file into the ceremony venue in separate lines, girls carrying flowers purchased out of class dues. This policy discriminates not only against transgender students and students with nonconforming gender identities, forced to publicly choose a gender, but also against female students who are literally draped in a symbol of female purity laden with gender stereotypes.

Graduation Gowns, Gender, and Controversy

Since early March, some students at Nathan Hale-Ray High School have been asking that the gender distinction be dropped at graduation and that students all wear graduation robes of the same color. To date, school administrators have not agreed to the change, and time seems to be running out. Last Tuesday, students were told they could choose a different color than the one that corresponded to their biological sex as long as they had the permission of their parents. The parental-permission requirement was dropped the next day, but the gender-specific robe color was not.

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