The passage of the Educational Amendments Act in 1972 also ushered in Title IX, which helped change the way sexual misconduct and harassment are handled in American higher education. Title IX prohibits sex and gender discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recently announced some new rules to this legislation, which could have a profound effect on how universities and colleges handle allegations of sexual assault.
What is Title IX?
Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex. More specifically, it 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.”
Title IX encompasses a wide variety of institutions, including more than 16,500 local school districts and 7,000 colleges nationwide, in addition to various charter schools, libraries, and museums. Title IX is also known for prohibiting and punishing sexual harassment, which is considered a form of sex discrimination.
Related: Campus Sexual Assault: Understanding Title IX - November 2023
What are the changes to Title IX?
The new Title IX regulations, set to go into effect August 2020, are wide-reaching. Victim advocacy groups have voiced their disappointment, while advocates for the accused claim victory. Some of the notable changes to Title IX include:
- Redefining “sexual harassment” as encompassing unwelcome conduct so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it would prohibit any “reasonable person” from accessing the program or educational opportunity. Sexual harassment can include domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking.
- Colleges and universities are required to hold hearings for all cases, allowing cross-examination of victims and the accused via their attorneys or representatives.
- Institutions of higher learning are only required to investigate complaints filed through a formal process. However, if a victim doesn’t file a formal complaint, schools are still required to comply with mandatory reporting and response obligations.
- Schools are only responsible for investigating sexual misconduct incidents that occur within their campus or purview in the United States, and within their own educational programs and activities.
Announcing the changes, Secretary DeVos said, “Today we release a final rule that recognizes we can continue to combat sexual misconduct without abandoning our core values of fairness, presumption of innocence and due process.”
Critics of the changes believe the new rules protect perpetrators of sexual violence, rather than victims. Said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “Democrats will not stand silently as the Trump administration attacks the civil rights of students and will fight to ensure that every college campus is free from the fear and threat of discrimination, harassment or violence.”
The Los Angeles attorneys at Taylor and Ring protect your rights if you were assaulted on- or off-campus. We can help you navigate through the new Title IX rules and ensure justice is served. Contact us today for effective and compassionate guidance. Call us today at 310-776-6390 or complete a contact form online to schedule a consultation. We serve all of Southern California.
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