All students deserve equal treatment in education. All student-athletes deserve equal treatment in sports. All people deserve to be safe from sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, and sexual discrimination. Title IX is the law that aims to protect and ensure these rights. If you believe you have suffered a Title IX violation, seek help from a skilled attorney today.
Title IX is a law enacted on June 23, 1972, prohibiting sex discrimination in education. The original law stated, “No person in the United States shall, based on 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.”
In 2002, Title IX was renamed the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act after the death of U.S. Congresswoman Patsy Takemoto Mink, who co-authored the bill.
The law was passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. It banned sex discrimination in federally funded education programs. It opened doors for girls and women in school admissions, academic majors, athletics, teaching positions, vocational programs, and individual classes. It also helped ensure equal access and treatment for student-athletes from pre-school all the way through college.
Although this law covers several forms of discrimination, it is most recognized for the gym doors it opened to women in the sports arena. Only 300,000 women in the entire United States played college and high school sports in 1972. There was not much money for female athletic programs at colleges and universities, and athletic scholarships for women barely existed back then. By 2012, the number of female college athletes increased significantly to more than three million.
A current hot-button issue concerns when or if biological males who identify as transgender can participate in women’s sports. Transgender women claim that they should be allowed to participate in women’s sporting events, while biological females claim that biological men have an inherent competitive advantage in most sports. Biological women claim that allowing biological males to play on women’s teams would harm women’s sports for biological women and undermine the very purpose of Tile IX. These and related issues are currently working their way through the courts.
In Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County, for example, the Eleventh Circuit addressed whether a transgender woman was entitled to use the women’s bathroom, even though those bathrooms were reserved for biological women. The Eleventh Circuit held that the school district’s policy did not violate the equal protection clause, nor did it violate Title IX. The Eleventh Circuit concluded that the word “sex,” as used in Title IX, refers to biological sex and does not cover transgender individuals.
Title IX also protects women from sexual abuse and sexual harassment in schools. A school that does not takes steps to protect women from sexual abuse and sexual harassment could violate Title IX.
A.B. v. Rhinebeck Central School District & Thomas Mawhinney (03 Civ. 3241 (SCR)) – In this case, which was tried before the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, four students and a teacher at a New York high school alleged that numerous complaints of sexual harassment against the school’s principal had been handled improperly or ignored. The Department of Justice intervened, and the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The school district was required to pay $152,500 to the victims, as well as implement numerous changes to prevent sexual harassment in the future, which ranged from additional training to hiring new staff.
Randolph v. Owasso Independent School District (4:96-cv-00105) – In 1996, parents and players on the Owasso High School girls’ softball team noticed that the boys’ team was being treated differently, with more resources and a substantially better playing field than the playing field used by the girls. When the parents requested upgrades for the girls’ field and the school refused, they filed a Title IX complaint. The school eventually settled the suit by agreeing to construct a new $275,000 field for the softball team. The original upgrades the parents had requested were estimated to cost around $35,000.
These cases highlight the steep costs an organization may face for violating students’ civil rights.
A primary driver for the enactment of Title IX was the protection of women from discrimination in schools. Tensions exist between Title IX and other constitutional protections. Two areas of tension, for example, are (a) access to women’s sports and locker rooms by biological males who identify as transgender, and (b) the due process rights of men accused of having sexually abused or sexually harassed women. These two areas of tension are generating considerable litigation as courts try to work through various complex issues.
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