Title IX at 45

The 45th anniversary of Title IX, the groundbreaking antidiscrimination law ensuring protection against sex discrimination in education, is this June. Experts weigh in on progress made in recent years, and what is needed to ensure it continues.

Rising above partisanship and gender politics, Title IX has historically garnered support from both Democrats and Republicans. This, according to Lisa Maatz, vice president of government relations and advocacy for the American Association of University Women (AAUW), is because the law guarantees equal rights to an education for girls and boys, and women and men. Title IX’s mandate extends far beyond its widely known role in expanding women’s access to athletics programs.

 “Title IX is hugely popular, and it’s a bipartisan issue. We don’t expect that to change,” Maatz said.

Echoing this sentiment, Sue Klein, Ed.D., education equity director for the Feminist Majority Foundation and a 34-year veteran of gender-equity research at the U.S. Department of Education, notes that many state and local laws also guarantee equal education rights to girls and boys and to women and men, and that federal agencies such as NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Justice support gender-rights education programs and activities along with the Education Department.

Dr. Klein and the Feminist Majority Foundation urge Title IX supporters to show their commitment to ending sex discrimination in their own communities by building on the Obama administration’s good work, including providing guidance, tools, and public enforcement decisions that have fortified Title IX. In view of all the unknowns posed by a new administration in Washington, advocates are also preparing to celebrate the groundbreaking antidiscrimination law’s 45th anniversary in June, making Dr. Klein’s recommendation all the more timely.


The people responsible for making sure Title IX works in schools, colleges, and universities across the country are called coordinators. At least one Title IX coordinator is required to work in every institution nationwide that receives federal funds for education programs or activities, and information about how to contact them should be posted on each school’s website.

Indeed, the Obama administration’s Department of Education encouraged greater attention to the important roles of required Title IX coordinators by providing the Title IX Resource Guide (http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/dcl-title-ix-coordinators-guide-201504.pdf) and the names, emails, and other ways to contact Title IX coordinators in 16,000 school districts and 7,000 colleges and universities, Dr. Klein said.

These school district Title IX coordinators are also encouraged to train and work with counterparts in all their public schools, to establish teams of coordinators with expertise in many areas of Title IX responsibility, such as ending sex discrimination and gender stereotyping in academics, athletics, employment, disciplinary practices, and sexual harassment and assault.

For example, Stop Sexual Assault in Schools (http://stopsexualassaultinschools.org/) has released its action plan on video, “Sexual Harassment: Not in Our School,” which showcases a student gender equity group learning from legal and education experts, student survivors, Title IX coordinators, and victim assistance providers about practical ways to ensure that their schools provide safe and equal learning opportunities.

That’s important because of intensified efforts by students, elected officials, and the Obama administration to deal with issues such as sexual violence, sexual harassment, LGBTQ discrimination, and equal access for women and girls to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs, and to college lab space, research assistants, and other support proportionate to their male colleagues.

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Title IX — April 24, 2015 USDOE Office for Civil Rights Dear Colleague Letter

On Friday, April 24, 2015 the USDOE Office for Civil Rights released a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) to school districts, colleges, and universities reminding them of their obligation to designate a Title IX coordinator. The Dear Colleague Letter is accompanied by a letter to Title IX coordinators that provides them with more information about their role and a Title IX resource guide that includes an overview of Title IX’s requirements with respect to several key issues.  The link is http://www2.ed.gov/policy/rights/guid/ocr/title-ix-coordinators.html


  • Dear Colleague Letter: Title IX Coordinators
  • Letter to Title IX Coordinators
  • Title IX Resource Guide

This is a very important set of emails. Please note these highlights from the DCL.


  • Your Title IX coordinator plays an essential role in helping you ensure that every person affected by the operations of your educational institution—including students, their parents or guardians, employees, and applicants for admission and employment—is aware of the legal rights Title IX affords and that your institution and its officials comply with their legal obligations under Title IX.
  • To be effective, a Title IX coordinator must have the full support of your institution. It is therefore critical that all institutions provide their Title IX coordinators with the appropriate authority and support necessary for them to carry out their duties and use their expertise to help their institutions comply with Title IX.
  • In our enforcement work, OCR has found that some of the most egregious and harmful Title IX violations occur when a recipient fails to designate a Title IX coordinator or when a Title IX coordinator has not been sufficiently trained or given the appropriate level of authority to oversee the recipient’s compliance with Title IX. By contrast, OCR has found that an effective Title IX coordinator often helps a recipient provide equal educational opportunities to all students.
  • Title IX does not categorically exclude particular employees from serving as Title IX coordinators. However, when designating a Title IX coordinator, a recipient should be careful to avoid designating an employee whose other job responsibilities may create a conflict of interest. For example, designating a disciplinary board member, general counsel, dean of students, superintendent, principal, or athletics director as the Title IX coordinator may pose a conflict of interest.
  • Although not required by Title IX, it may be a good practice for some recipients, particularly larger school districts, colleges, and universities, to designate multiple Title IX coordinators. For example, some recipients have found that designating a Title IX coordinator for each building, school, or campus provides students and staff with more familiarity with the Title IX coordinator. This familiarity may result in more effective training of the school community on their rights and obligations under Title IX and improved reporting of incidents under Title IX.
  • The Title IX coordinator is responsible for coordinating the recipient’s responses to all complaints involving possible sex discrimination.
  • Title IX makes it unlawful to retaliate against individuals—including Title IX coordinators—not just when they file a complaint alleging a violation of Title IX, but also when they participate in a Title IX investigation, hearing, or proceeding, or advocate for others’ Title IX rights.6 Title IX’s broad anti-retaliation provision protects Title IX coordinators from discrimination, intimidation, threats, and coercion for the purpose of interfering with the performance of their job responsibilities. A recipient, therefore, must not interfere with the Title IX coordinator’s participation in complaint investigations and monitoring of the recipient’s efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under Title IX. Rather, a recipient should encourage its Title IX coordinator to help it comply with Title IX and promote gender equity in education.
  • Recipients must ensure that their Title IX coordinators are appropriately trained and possess comprehensive knowledge in all areas over which they have responsibility in order to effectively carry out those responsibilities, including the recipients’ policies and procedures on sex discrimination and all complaints raising Title IX issues throughout the institution.

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