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Title IX FAQ
This packet is designed to provide basic information about Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities. It outlines steps you can take to advance gender equity and also contains practical resources to help you assess whether your school is in compliance with Title IX.
The packet contains the following items:
We hope that this packet will be informative and will offer some practical tools to help you ensure smooth implementation of Title IX and gender equity.
Title IX ushered in an era of education that was to have significant and direct impact on one-half of the population of the United States—women and girls. With its mandate of nondiscrimination on the basis of sex, it opened the doors for important changes. As national legislation, Title IX reflected a growing sense that current education was perpetuating a system of inequity in which females were seen as inferior, whereas males--especially white males--were allocated roles of dominance and privilege. Title IX provided local educators and advocates with a mandate to change this situation at the state and local levels. Such efforts began to shift the sense of what it meant to be female or male and expanded options for both sexes in terms of identity as well as access to opportunity.
Despite challenges that continue to inhibit the achievement of that goal, Title IX has provided the impetus for great successes and significant change within the United States. Doors that were previously closed have been opened. Females who attended schools prior to 1972 experienced sex-segregated classes, denial of admissions to certain vocational education classes, lack of access to advanced mathematics and science courses, and overt discrimination in medical schools and other predominantly male institutions. The passage of Title IX and other educational equity laws removed many of these formal, systemic barriers. In addition, it prohibited schools from forcing pregnant and parenting female students to drop out. Females can no longer be barred from traditionally male classes, nor can there any longer be different course requirements for girls and boys.
A second success has been an increase in budgets and resources allocated to women’s and girls’ educational programs and activities compared with funds for similar boys’ programs. Especially in athletics, as a result of Title IX, girls in high school and colleges now have more choices and greater visibility within schools at local, state, and postsecondary levels. Third, Title IX and supporting legislation have led to the formation of a national infrastructure of organizations and individuals committed to working toward equity and change. For example, the federally funded Equity Assistance Centers and the national WEEA Equity Resource Center provide technical assistance and training and disseminate the most up-to-date resources available.
Finally, in almost three decades much progress has been made toward a more sophisticated understanding of gender discrimination and its implications, not just for education but for American society as a whole. Models for restructuring schools and training educators and administrators in gender-fair education have been developed and tested. We have a clearer understanding of the need for gender equity in education and have more resources to help us move toward that goal.
Below is a brief list of achievements in women’s education since the passage of Title IX:
Unfortunately, these milestones exist alongside remaining barriers, and challenges still lie ahead.
Although there are numerous laws supporting "equal opportunity" for groups that have been discriminated against in the past, institutions change slowly. Equal access and equal treatment for males and females in education do not in and of themselves ensure equitable outcomes for all students. Equal access alone does not remove the many deep-seated social beliefs about females and males and their respective abilities, nor does it eliminate the widespread practices that perpetuate these stereotypes. Equitable outcomes can be achieved only by recognizing that different students experience the world differently and accordingly need diverse, innovative, and appropriate pedagogical approaches. Further reforms--with equity at the center--will dramatically improve education for all students. We need to redouble our efforts to reach the goal of Title IX: an equal education for girls and boys.
What is Title IX?
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was the first comprehensive federal law to prohibit sex discrimination against students and employees of educational institutions. It is one of several federal and state antidiscrimination laws that define and ensure equality in education. The regulations implementing Title IX, published in 1975, prohibit discrimination, exclusion, denial, limitation, or separation based on gender. Title IX states:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Who is protected under Title IX?
Title IX covers men and women, boys and girls, staff and students in any educational institution receiving federal funding. These include local school districts, colleges and universities, for-profit schools, libraries, and museums. Vocational rehabilitation agencies and education agencies of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories and possessions are also included. Title IX does not generally cover private educational institutions unless they receive federal financial assistance. In addition, music classes or choruses based on vocal range or quality, sex education classes, and sports involving bodily contact are exempt from Title IX requirements, as are religious institutions if implementation of this law would violate their religious tenets. Title IX also does not apply to admission to private undergraduate institutions.
Does Title IX apply mostly to athletics?
Although it is the application of Title IX to athletics that has gained the greatest public visibility, the law applies to every single aspect of education, including admissions and recruitment, comparable facilities, access to course offerings, access to schools of vocational education, counseling and counseling materials, financial assistance, student health and insurance benefits and/or services, housing, marital and parental status of students, physical education and athletics, education programs and activities, and employment. Before Title IX was enacted, most colleges and universities emphasized sports only for male students. The educational opportunities of athletic programs were generally limited for women. Title IX has helped focus attention on the legal requirements of federally funded institutions to provide equal athletic opportunities for women. The result has been increased involvement of girls and women in sports at all levels.
Does Title IX cover sexual harassment?
Title IX regulations explicitly prohibit sex discrimination which includes harassment, and a number of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have clarified how the law should be applied in this area. In particular, the unanimous Franklin v. Gwinnett decision (1992) held that Title IX prohibits sexual harassment and allows victims to recover damages from institutions that violate the statute. Gebser v. Lago Vista (1997) limited the availability of money damages by requiring plaintiffs to prove "deliberate indifference" and prior knowledge by the school administration in cases where teachers or other educational staff sexually harassed students. In the most recent decision, Davis v. Monroe (1999), the Court held that schools may be liable for peer (student-to-student) sexual harassment.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has produced guidelines outlining schools’ responsibilities for preventing sexual harassment and resolving allegations once they arise. The OCR Sexual Harassment Guidance, available on the department’s website, http://www.ed.gov/offices/OCR/ocregion.html, will help educators design effective and appropriate antiharassment policies. OCR staff can also provide technical assistance.
Does Title IX benefit only girls and women?
Title IX benefits everyone—girls and boys, women and men. The law requires educational institutions to maintain policies, practices, and programs that do not discriminate against anyone on the basis of gender. Elimination of discrimination against women and girls has received more attention because females have historically faced greater gender restrictions and barriers in education. However, Title IX has also benefited men and boys. Continued efforts to achieve educational equity have benefited all students by moving toward the creation of school environments where all students can learn and achieve the highest standards. "As research continues to show, gender-equitable education supports the teaching and learning of both girls and boys. It is as important for both girls and boys to learn about the contributions of women--from all groups and cultures--as it is to develop cooperative learning skills, or to learn about parenting. . . . Gender equity in education is more than putting girls on equal footing with boys--it’s eliminating the barriers and stereotypes that limit the opportunities and choices of both sexes."
Does Title IX require girls and boys to be given the same resources?
Title IX requires equal educational opportunities to participate in the full range of extracurricular activities, equal opportunity to access all courses and programs, and equal opportunity to participate in athletics.
Specifically in the area of athletics, there are three ways in which Title IX compliance is assessed. Schools can demonstrate compliance with Title IX if they can fulfill any one of the following requirements, commonly known as the "three-part test":
Does Title IX require quotas?
"Title IX is an antidiscrimination statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. . . . Both in academics and athletics, Title IX guarantees that all students, regardless of gender, have equitable opportunities to participate in the education program. This guarantee does not impose quotas based on gender, either in classrooms or in athletic programs. Indeed, the imposition of any such strict numerical requirement concerning students would be inconsistent with Title IX itself, which is designed to protect the rights of all students and to provide equitable opportunities for all students."
Is there someone in my school or district who would know about Title IX?
Title IX mandates that school systems or other recipients of federal funds designate at least one employee as a Title IX coordinator to oversee compliance efforts. These institutions are also required to investigate any complaints of sex discrimination. In addition, all students and employees must be notified of the name, office address, and telephone number of the designated Title IX coordinator. The administrator in your school or institution can provide you with this information. A listing of statewide Title IX coordinators has been compiled by the WEEA Equity Resource Center and is available on our website at www.edc.org/WomensEquity (click State Equity Contacts in the Title IX section).
Are single-sex classes or schools allowed under Title IX?
Title IX explicitly does not cover admissions policies in traditionally single-sex public institutions (that were single-sex before Title IX was enacted) or private institutions of undergraduate higher education, or in elementary or secondary institutions. Depending on the type of institution, single-sex educational programs are subject to regulations under the Constitution and/or Title IX.
"The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 1996 decision in United States v. Virginia, holding that the exclusion of women from admission to the Virginia Military Institute was a violation of the ‘equal protection’ clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, makes it clear that any categorical exclusion of members of one sex from a public educational institution or program will be met with ‘skeptical scrutiny’ under the Constitution. . . . A public school or program that excludes all members of one sex may pass constitutional muster only if the school demonstrates persuasively that it truly serves the objective of compensating for discrimination and eliminating barriers to advancement. For example, an all-girls math program may be sustainable if its proponents can demonstrate that it substantially furthers the goal of remedying past or present discriminatory practices that have discouraged girls from pursuing an interest in math. If, however, such a program lacks a compensatory justification, and instead teaches math in a diluted form based on stereotypes that girls are ‘bad with numbers,’ it would not withstand a constitutional challenge.
"Unlike the Constitution, Title IX applies to many private institutions. Like the Constitution, however, Title IX does not categorically prohibit single-sex education in institutions it covers. The regulations issued under Title IX do contain certain exceptions that permit specified programs separated by gender."
These exceptions include sports involving bodily contact, sex education classes, music classes, financial aid (created under a will, bequest, or other legal instrument), student housing, and programs for pregnant and parenting teens—provided that these programs or policies are not discriminatory.
For a more detailed overview of the legal and educational issues in single-sex education, see the WEEA Digest: "Single-Sex Education" in the publications section of the WEEA website at www.edc.org/WomensEquity .
How can I be sure that my school is complying with Title IX?
In addition to requiring the assignment and notification of a Title IX coordinator, the regulations encourage institutions to take proactive steps to foster an equitable learning environment for all students. To assess equity in your school, you can look at such factors as physical environment, curriculum, extracurricular activities/athletics, behavior management, role models, administrative oversight, and employment practices. This packet includes a Title IX compliance checklist to help you examine your school system.
If I notice something in my school that seems unfair or in violation of Title IX, how can I get help?
There are several resources available to help you.
Find your district’s or state’s Title IX coordinator, and consult with him or her about the specific situation.
Visit our website at www.edc.org/WomensEquity. We can connect you to the federally funded Equity Assistance Center (EAC) located in your region of the country. These centers work with schools to ensure equitable teaching and learning environments, as well as compliance with Title IX and a number of other antidiscrimination laws in education.
Contact the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education. OCR is available to answer your questions or if you wish to file a complaint. To contact the enforcement office for your region, visit the OCR website at www.ed.gov/offices/OCR/ocregion.html
The WEEA Digest
The WEEA Digest is a free field-based journal of cutting-edge discussions about educational theory and research. It addresses a wide variety of educational topics from the perspective of equity and includes lists of recommended practical resources. See the WEEA website at www.edc.org/WomensEquity for a complete collection of issues. The issue commemorating the 25th anniversary of Title IX, "25 Years of Title IX: A Brief History," is included in this packet.
Gender Equity for Educators, Parents, and Community
This booklet, from the Equity in Education Series, offers practical approaches to help educators, family members, caregivers, and community members understand their critical roles in furthering equity in the schools and in society. It also offers activities and other hands-on tools to identify bias and respond to it. For use in K-12 classrooms (also available in Spanish). (26 pp.) 1995 • #2762 • $5.00
Just What the Doctor Should Have Ordered: A Prescription for Sex-Fair School Health Services
This vital guide provides the first civil rights view of sex discrimination in health services. Using a step-by-step, easy-to-manage method for evaluating student health services, it clearly defines the legal responsibilities as required by Title IX and helps schools negotiate ethical dilemmas. (158 pp.) 1989 • #2698 • $21.25
Legislation for Change: A Case Study of Title IX and the Women's Educational Equity Act Program
This working paper uses Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 as a case study to explore the education field and the impact of civil rights legislation dealing with gender. It explains what Title IX is, discusses its origins and context, and examines some of its successes and failures, closing with some points to consider when legislating for equity. (22 pp.) 1993 • #2749 • $6.00
Raising the Grade: A Title IX Curriculum
Building an effective classroom for all boys and girls is the first step toward increasing student achievement. The curriculum is a collection of fun and interesting activities designed to strengthen students’ abilities to work together across gender, race, ethnicity, and disability. For K-12. (174 pp.) 1998 • #2810 • $17.00
Additional Title IX Resources
The Equity Principal: Administrators Handbook
This handbook emphasizes the importance of including equity as a criterion for excellence in today’s schools through practical application. School evaluation and Title IX compliance checklists are included (171 pp.) 1988. GrayMill, Canyon Lake, CA (909) 246-2106, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.graymill.org
Debunking the Myths About Title IX and Athletics (1999)
This collection of information sheets offers factual answers to common misconceptions about the requirements of Title IX for athletics. National Women’s Law Center, Washington, DC, (202) 588-5180, http://www.nwlc.org
Gender Equity: Implementing Title IX (1999)
This source guide is produced by the Human Rights and Community Relations Department of the American Federation of Teachers. A practical toolkit, it contains both general information about Title IX and evaluation checklists and guidelines for conducting a workshop. American Federation of Teachers, Washington, DC, (202) 879-4400, www.aft.org
Gender Gaps (1998)
This is an update of the landmark 1992 report How America’s Schools Shortchange Girls, which presented research findings on the quality of education for girls and boys throughout the nation. American Association of University Women, Washington, DC, (800) 326-AAUW, www.aauw.org
Impact of the Civil Rights Laws (1999)
This booklet is a compilation of recent statistics highlighting various successes achieved since the authorization of Title IX and other related civil rights laws. Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC, (877) 4-ED-PUBS, www.ed.gov/offices/OCR
Title IX at 25: A Report Card on Gender Equity (1997)
This report by the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education assesses the state of gender equity in the nation in nine key areas of education and legal developments. Available from the WEEA Equity Resource Center, Newton, MA, www.edc.org/womensequity
Title IX: 25 Years of Progress (1997)
This booklet describes the success of Title IX since its inception and provides a brief historical perspective on the law and its impact. Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC, 1-877-4-ED-PUBS, www.ed.gov/offices/OCR
Under Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the U.S. Department of Education funds 10 regional Equity Assistance Centers to provide assistance in matters of race, gender, and national origin equity to public school districts throughout the country, as well as 15 regional Comprehensive Assistance Centers to provide assistance and information on school reform. In addition, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the department works to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence through the enforcement of civil rights. OCR’s primary responsibilities include resolving discrimination complaints and conducting compliance reviews, in addition to providing technical assistance.
To be connected to an Equity Assistance Center, a Comprehensive Assistance Center, or an OCR office in your region, visit the Title IX section of the WEEA website for more information. Additional organizations include:
of University Women
Myra Sadker Advocates
for Gender Equity
for Girls and Women in Sport
for Women in Education
for Sex Equity in Education
Association, Women and Girls Program
NOW Legal Defense
and Education Fund
Title IX Advocacy
of Educaton, Office for Civil Rights
Assessment: A Model Framework and Sample Instrument
I. Strategies for Assessing Your School/District
A common understanding of Title IX and the educational institution’s role in implementing the law will make the assessment phase much smoother and more meaningful. The following are some questions to consider at the beginning of your assessment:
These questions will create a framework to begin the assessment process. The product of assessment should be an equitable educational environment for students and an equitable workplace for teachers, administrators, and other workers.
Step 1: Indentifying the Title IX Coordinator
The Title IX coordinator (or equal education opportunity officer/equal employment opportunity officer/affirmative action officer in institutions of higher education) should be included in the process of assessment. But first that person needs to be identified. By law, an educational institution must publicly post the name of the designated Title IX coordinator so that students, parents, and employees have access to that person. To locate the Title IX coordinator:
Inquire at the principal or superintendent’s office;
Contact the named Title IX coordinator directly to make sure that the person knows he or she is responsible for Title IX implementation. Sometimes a new coordinator is appointed but school-site information does not reflect the new appointment. Other times a teacher, administrator, or other employee fails to learn of the appointment and designated responsibilities.
If your school or district has not appointed a Title IX coordinator, it is failing to comply with Title IX and is thus jeopardizing the students’ right to study in an equitable school and the employees’ right to work in an equitable workplace. The consequences of noncompliance can be serious and include the possibility of losing federal funding for educational programs. If you learn that your school district does not have a Title IX coordinator, you need to bring this to the attention of the administration.
Once the Title IX coordinator is located, you should learn what activities and policies have been established by that person. It is important to realize that by appointing a Title IX coordinator, your school/district has moved one step closer to achieving educational equity. A Title IX coordinator may have multiple responsibilities in your school/district, but certain responsibilities are mandated. Students and employees of the school/district are entitled to strong representation on matters of equity. The following checklist outlines the types of actions that a Title IX coordinator should take to ensure success.
Monitoring Checklist for Title IX Coordinators*
Ensure Title IX compliance is an ongoing program rather than a one-time response. As both programs and personnel change, Title IX coordinators must continuously monitor education programs, activities, employment policies, and other job practices to make sure that the requirements of Title IX are being met. Here is a checklist of steps that a Title IX coordinator should take when establishing a monitoring program.
Education Programs and Activities
*Adapted from Title IX Coordinators ‘ Orientation Packet, prepared by the Mid-Atlantic Center for Sex Equity
Before starting an assessment of your school, district, department, or classroom, think about how it should be structured. Suggestions on how to approach the assessment phase are outlined below:
Don’t feel limited by the suggestions here. Feel free to build your own process that meets the needs of your particular situation.
II. Sample Assessment Tool/Checklist
Introduction to Assessment
This section will assist you in measuring equity in your school, district, department, or classroom. The assessment tools are based on an instrument called The Equitable School Continuum, which was developed by The NETWORK, Inc. in 1991, for use by schools. It examines the question, "What does an equitable school look like?" This tool will take you through various parts of your school that should be assessed for equity.
The assessment addresses seven areas: physical environment, curriculum, extracurricular activities/athletics, behavior management, role models, administrative oversight, and employment practices. Table A defines the aspects of a school that influence the educational experience of students and the workplace of school staff. These categories are the areas that you should examine to best assess yourself and your school.
Unless otherwise stated, the assessment tools in this packet ask multiple-choice questions to which the response may be yes, no, unsure, or need to improve. As your responses are private unless you decide to share them with others, it is best to spend time thinking about each question and answer it honestly. Use a separate sheet of paper to write down any comments or issues that arise while you are responding to questions. When each assessment section is complete, review your responses. Look carefully at those to which you responded unsure or need to improve; these are areas for improvement. Also review your yes and no responses and look for areas of strength and weakness.
Once you have assessed your school’s situation, you can create a plan of action. You may decide to begin by sharing results with others or by allowing the committee to have a meeting. However, when you decide to get the word out, remember to congratulate your school for its areas of strength and raise areas of weakness with the appropriate source/s. Your recommendations for improvement can effect change in your school and improve equity.
Table A. Assessment Categories*
Domain Areas Included:
*Adapted from: Rose, Kolb, Barra-Zumman, The Equitable School Continuum, Vol. 3.2 (Andover, MA: The NETWORK, Inc., 1991).
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