Guidance Issued on How Schools Can Partner with Outside Organizations that Provide Single-Sex Programs under Title IX

U.S. Department of Education

Office of Communications & Outreach, Press Office   

400 Maryland Ave., S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20202                 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

Dec. 15, 2015

 

Contact: Press Office

(202) 401-1576 or press@ed.gov

 

 

Guidance Issued on How Schools Can Partner with Outside Organizations that Provide Single-Sex Programs under Title IX

 

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights today released guidance in the form of a Dear Colleague Letterdetailing schools’ responsibilities under Title IX when partnering with certain outside organizations that provide single-sex programs to a school district’s students. The letter explains the circumstances under which a school district may work lawfully with “voluntary youth service organizations” under Title IX.

 

“We know that outside organizations can be great resources for school districts trying to improve the quality and diversity of the educational opportunities they offer,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. “We hope this guidance provides schools with additional clarity on how to comply with Title IX’s requirement to provide equitable opportunities for students regardless of their sex, including, where the law allows it, while working with organizations that serve students of only one sex.”

 

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. The law generally bars school districts both from excluding students from educational opportunities based on their sex and from providing significant assistance to outside organizations that do so, but it allows schools to work with certain outside organizations that limit membership by sex.

 

The new guidance reminds schools that Title IX prohibits school districts from providing significant assistance – such as financial support, staff, equipment, and facilities – to any outside organization that discriminates on the basis of sex, unless Title IX excepts the organization from its reach.

 

The letter explains that Title IX does not apply to the membership practices of voluntary youth service organizations even when they receive significant assistance from a school district.

 

In order for an organization to qualify for this exemption, its membership must be voluntary, traditionally limited to members of one sex, and principally limited to persons under age 19. The organization also must facilitate public service opportunities for its members.

 

Finally, the letter clarifies that, even though Title IX allows a school to provide significant assistance to a voluntary youth service organization, the district still has a Title IX obligation to ensure that girls and boys have comparable educational opportunities overall.

 

OCR’s mission is to ensure equal access to education and promote educational excellence throughout the nation through the vigorous enforcement of civil rights. The office is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination by educational institutions on the basis of disability, race, color, national origin, sex, and age, as well as the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act of 2001. For more about the office, click here.

 

More information about Title IX and other OCR guidance documents on Title IX issues can be found here.

 

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Settlement Reached with Palatine, Ill., Township High School District 211 to Remedy Transgender Discrimination

Settlement Reached with Palatine, Ill., Township High School District 211 to Remedy Transgender Discrimination

SOURCE- http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/settlement-reached-palatine-ill-township-high-school-district-211-remedy-transgender-discrimination

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that it has entered into a resolution agreement with Township High School District 211 based in Palatine, Illinois, after finding the district in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 for discriminating against a transgender high school student by denying her access to the girls’ locker rooms.

The case marked the first time that the Department’s Office for Civil Rights had found a school district in violation of civil rights laws over transgender issues.

“I commend the Board of Education of Township High School District 211 for taking steps necessary to protect civil rights as well as student privacy,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. “We are grateful that the board and superintendent chose to come into full compliance with our nation’s civil rights laws. And, we look forward to partnering with the district to assure that the terms of this agreement are fully and effectively implemented.”

The events leading up to today’s announcement began in earnest on Nov. 2 when OCR issued a letter of findings to the district. The letter notified the district that it was in violation of Title IX, which protects all students, including transgender students, from sex discrimination in K-12 districts that receive federal funding.

OCR concluded that the district violated Title IX because, for more than two school years, the district had denied a transgender student access to the girls’ locker rooms at her high school, and offered her only separate facilities to change clothes for her athletics activities and mandatory physical education classes in order to satisfy the graduation requirements and receive a high school diploma.

The office noted that the district had previously designated the student as female in its computer system. And, that it had given the student unlimited access to all girls’ restrooms in the school and allowed her to participate in girls’ athletics.

At a special meeting Wednesday night, the District 211 school board approved a settlement to address the issues raised in OCR’s letter of findings and begin the process to bring the district in compliance with civil rights laws.

Under the agreement, the district agreed to take the following specific actions:

  • Provide the student with access to the girls’ locker rooms at her high school based on the student’s request to change in private changing stations in the girls’ locker rooms.
  • Protect the privacy of its students by installing sufficient privacy curtains within the girls’ locker rooms at the high school to accommodate the transgender student and any students who wish to be assured of privacy.
  • Provide a reasonable alternative for any student requesting additional privacy—beyond the privacy afforded by the privacy curtains—in the girls’ locker rooms. Examples could include use of another private area or assignment of a locker in near proximity to the office of a teacher or coach.
  • Coordinate with hosts of off-campus, district-sponsored activities to arrange for the transgender student to be provided access to facilities for female students.
  • Engage a consultant (who may be a district employee) with expertise in child and adolescent gender identity, including transgender and gender nonconforming youth, to support and assist the district in implementing the resolution agreement.
  • Establish a support team, if requested by the transgender student and her parents, to ensure that she has access and the opportunity to participate in all district programs and activities, and is otherwise protected from gender-based discrimination at school.
  • Adopt and publish a revised notice of nondiscrimination on the basis of sex. And,
  • Provide OCR with a copy or detailed description of all gender-based discrimination or harassment complaints or incidents.

A copy of the Nov. 2 letter of findings can be found here, and the agreement is posted here.

OCR’s mission is to ensure equal access to education and promote educational excellence throughout the nation through the vigorous enforcement of civil rights. OCR is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination by educational institutions on the basis of disability, race, color, national origin, sex, and age, as well as the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act of 2001.

For details on how OCR handles civil rights cases, please click here.

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