If you work or have children in the educational system, then you may be familiar with Title IX. In recent years, this federal antidiscrimination law has been under scrutiny, as well as undergone changes by the past three presidential administrations. However, many still do not really understand what Title IX represents and serves to accomplish under civil rights law.
Today’s blog post discusses Title IX in detail, including its history, evolution, and more. We will cover the topics below to shed more light on this oft-debated topic and provide a clearer understanding of what and who Title IX is meant to protect, as well as what could constitute a Title IX violation today.
What is Title IX?
A federal civil rights law, the Title IX definition says that no institution of higher education can discriminate against anybody on the basis of their sex and gender, as explained in the opening text of the law: “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.” (Public Law No. 92‑318, 86 Stat. 235 (June 23, 1972), codified at 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681–1688.)
The purpose of Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 was to update Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned several forms of discrimination in employment – but did not address or mention discrimination in education. This is significant because, at the time, only about 42 percent of the students enrolled in American colleges were female. That said, the protections offered by Title IX would subsequently help females succeed in admissions, academic majors, vocational programs, athletics, and individual classes – while also helping to ensure equal treatment once they got in.
Furthermore, Title IX does not only apply to higher education, i.e., undergraduate and graduate students. Its protection also extends to elementary and secondary schools, including faculty, staff, and visitors of any campus receiving federal financial assistance. However, there are some key differences in Title IX’s application to elementary and secondary schools as compared to colleges and universities, which can be best explained by a Title IX attorney.
What is Title IX in Sports?
Title IX was initially enacted to protect against discrimination in all educational programs, such as cases involving pregnant and parenting students and women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs. Its protections also include incidents of sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination, and sexual violence.
However, Title IX is most famous for its impact on expanding opportunities for women and girls in sports1. In 1972, athletic scholarships for women were almost nonexistent, and collegiate female athletes only received about 2 percent of the total athletic budgets. Fast forward to 2016, and one in every five U.S. girls played sports, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation, a vast improvement over one in 27, the number before Title IX passed into law.
Within Title IX, three parts apply to athletic programs:
- Participation and effective accommodation of student interests and abilities
- Scholarships and athletic financial assistance
- Benefits to and treatment of athletes, including equipment and supplies, scheduling (games and practice), travel and daily per diem allowances, access to tutoring, coaching, locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities, medical and training facilities and services, publicity, recruitment of student-athletes, and support services
Title IX History
The legacy of Title IX’s introduction, passing, and championship in the 70s belongs to several people, including Senator Birch Bayh, Representative Edith Green, and Representative Patsy Mink. Initially, Title IX was enacted as a follow-up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which addressed employment and public accommodation discrimination in various fields based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. However, the act failed to include educational institutions as one of the fields or protected areas.
Therefore, Title VI was passed to prohibit discrimination in all federally funded private and public entities, including educational institutions, and it covered race, color, and national origin – but excluded sex. So, after much lobbying, Title IX was enacted in 1972 to fill this gap and prohibit sex discrimination in all federally funded education programs.
However, Congressman John Tower proposed an amendment to Title IX (in 1974) that would exempt “revenue-producing sports” and “provide equal access for male and female students to the educational process and the extracurricular activities in a school, where there is not a unique facet such as football involved.” Although this amendment failed, the Javits Amendment was adopted instead, which was introduced by Senator Jacob Javits to allow for “reasonable provisions considering the nature of particular sports” – meaning that spending on teams doesn’t have to be equal if there are different needs.
Whether enacted or not, the Tower, Javits, and other proposed amendments of the same vein eventually led to a widespread misunderstanding of Title IX as a sports-equity law rather than an anti-discrimination, civil rights law.
Title IX Regulations
Under Title IX regulations, no person shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any academic, extracurricular, research, occupational training, or other education program or activity operated by a recipient which receives Federal financial assistance on the basis of sex, including:
- Treating one person differently from another in determining whether such person satisfies any requirement or condition for the provision of such aid, benefit, or service
- Providing different aid, benefits, or services or provide aid, benefits, or services in a different manner
- Denying any person any such aid, benefit, or service
- Subjecting any person to separate or different rules of behavior, sanctions, or other treatment
- Applying any rule concerning the domicile or residence of a student or applicant, including eligibility for in-State fees and tuition
- Aiding or perpetuating discrimination against any person by providing significant assistance to any agency, organization, or person which discriminates on the basis of sex in providing any aid, benefit or service to students or employees
- Otherwise limiting any person in the enjoyment of any right, privilege, advantage, or opportunity
New Title IX Regulations
Since the law was first enacted over 50 years ago to stop academic disciplines from sex-based exclusion or discrimination against women, Title IX rules have continued to evolve in their scope, meaning, and enforcement. Today, Title IX also protects students from sexual harassment and assault while prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. For example, the new Title IX regulations passed in 2020 focus on a school’s response to allegations of sexual harassment, including new specific due process procedures.
New regulations were recently proposed, i.e., the new title ix regulations 2022, which are expected to become public in May 2023. These new regulations2 are intended to “update procedures to fill gaps and work more effectively in protecting against sex discrimination in the nation’s K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions.” Among others, the primary changes include:
- For the first time, include protections for transgender and nonbinary students.
- Expand the definition of sexual harassment, decreasing the threshold for what schools are required to investigate.
- Add protections for pregnant and parenting students.
- Adjust a requirement for live hearings to evaluate evidence in college and university cases involving sexual misconduct, i.e., if a school determines that its fair and reliable process will be best accomplished with a single-investigator model, it can use that model.
- Require schools to use a “preponderance of evidence” standard instead of a “clear and convincing evidence” standard in determining the outcome of most sexual assault cases.
What Would be a Violation of Title IX?
A Title IX violation must include two major qualifying elements to be considered. First, the violation must be discrimination “on the basis of sex.” Second, discrimination must occur in an educational setting in a program or institution that receives federal funding.
For example, sexual harassment and sexual violence on a college campus qualify as sex discrimination under Title IX. This is because sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other forms of sexual misconduct can negatively affect a student’s access to higher education.
Contact Experienced Austin Title IX Defense Attorneys
If you or someone you know is involved with or facing a Title IX lawsuit, an experienced Title IX attorney can help you navigate the path forward with confidence. The Austin defense attorneys at GHC Law Firm have experience in this area and can offer sound advice, including how the law may work in your favor.
Contact a Title IX defense attorney today.