What is sex-based harassment?
Sex-based harassment can take multiple forms. Harassers can be students, school staff, or even someone visiting the school, such as a student or employee from another school. Sexual harassment (including sexual violence) is a form of sex-based harassment.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment refers to sex-based conduct that satisfies one or more of the following: (1) quid pro quo harassment by an employee of an educational institution—meaning that an employee offers something to a student or other person in exchange for sexual conduct; (2) unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would find to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to an education program or activity; or (3) sexual assault (as defined in the Clery Act), dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking (as defined in the Violence Against Women Act). Each of these categories of misconduct is a serious violation that jeopardizes a victim’s equal access to education.
Title IX is a federal law that prohibits any educational institution that receives federal financial assistance (such as grants or student loans) from discriminating on the basis of sex. You can find the full text here.
Does Title IX Prohibit Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity?
Yes. Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. This includes situations where individuals are harassed; disciplined in a discriminatory manner; excluded from, denied equal access to, or subjected to sex stereotyping in academic or extracurricular opportunities and other education programs or activities; denied the benefits of a school’s programs or activities; or otherwise treated differently because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
For more resources for LGBTQI+ students, please click here.
What are the responsibilities of school districts, colleges, and universities under Title IX to address sex-based harassment?
When a school has actual knowledge of sexual harassment in any of its programs or activities that take place in United States, it must respond promptly in a manner that is not deliberately indifferent. A school is deliberately indifferent if its response to sexual harassment is clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstances. The Title IX Coordinator must promptly contact the complainant to discuss the availability of supportive measures, regardless of whether a formal complaint is filed, and to explain the process for filing a formal complaint.
In addition, if a formal complaint is filed, either by the complainant or the Title IX Coordinator, a school must:
offer supportive measures to the respondent, and
follow the Title IX grievance process specified by the 2020 amendments.
For more information on the obligations, see 34 C.F.R. § 106.44(a) and the Questions and Answers resource and Appendix on the Title IX Regulations on Sexual Harassment.