Title IX of the Education Amendment
GGE’s work to eliminate gender-based violence within school systems is based on Title IX, the civil rights law requiring that any educational establishment receiving funds from the national government provide equal opportunities to students, regardless of gender. Through several legal decisions since 1972 it has been determined that Title IX covers the following ten key points*: access to higher education, athletics, career education, education for pregnant and parenting students, employment, learning environment, math and science, sexual harassment, and standardized testing and technology.
The passage of Title IX was a promising sign in the fight for girls’ and women’s rights, but poor enforcement has limited its effectiveness. Despite this civil rights law, many educational environments continue to be unfair, unwelcoming, and unsafe for all students.
Sexual harassment is one of the points of Title IX that is often overlooked. Title IX defines sexual harassment in two ways. Quid pro quo (Latin for “this for that”) harassment is when a teacher or school employee offers a student something (like a good grade or a recommendation) in exchange for sexual favors. It could also be a threat to lower a grade or treat the student worse than other students if he or she refuses to engage in a sexual act. Hostile environment harassment occurs when students, teachers, or staff at the school touch a student in a sexual way, make sexual comments, gestures, or jokes, or show sexual pictures. Hostile environment harassment is discrimination under Title IX if it is severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive, and if it bars the victim’s access to an educational opportunity or benefit.
Title IX requires schools to take the following steps to help prevent and address harassment:
- Create and distribute a policy on sexual harassment
- Adopt and publish grievance procedures for complaints of sexual harassment
- Appoint one employee as the Title IX coordinator who will handle complaints of sexual harassment
- Respond promptly and effectively to reports of sexual harassment