The History of Title IX

Congress passed the Education Amendments in 1972, including Title IX. This federal civil rights law prohibits sex discrimination in education and applies to any schools or educational institutions that receive federal funds. The history of Title IX focused on ensuring equal funding in sports for men and women, but the interpretation and focus of the law have changed over time.

In recent years, the federal government has interpreted Title IX to govern school disciplinary proceedings involving sexual harassment, sexual violence, and other forms of sexual misconduct.
According to this interpretation, by thoroughly investigating and punishing students and employees accused of sexual misconduct, colleges and universities uphold the Title IX commitment to guaranteeing equal opportunity and access to education.

A seasoned lawyer may be able to protect your rights if you are accused of sexual misconduct in Title IX proceedings at your college or university.

Title IX and Sex Discrimination

The traditional history of Title IX was to make sure that all schools that were receiving federal funding provided equal access to sports for males and females. Although it does not require that schools offer identical sports for both genders, Title IX does require that males and females have equal opportunities to participate in sports.

Accordingly, male and female athletes must have access to the same amount of scholarship dollars, equal time in training facilities, and equal access to equipment, coaching, and any other support that schools provide to their athletes.

Title IX provides guidelines for schools to ensure compliance with the law, including the designation of a campus Title IX coordinator whose contact information is publicly available and establishment of Title IX policies posted on school websites.

Over the years, the federal government also has provided additional specific guidance about how schools should handle allegations of sex discrimination and sexual misconduct. As a result, every school has detailed policies and procedures in place to immediately investigate and adjudication these allegations.

Title IX Private Causes of Action

As awareness of sexual violence on college campuses continued to grow over the years, victims of sexual assault and so-called “acquaintance rape” became increasingly dissatisfied with what they perceived as the poor treatment of victims in the criminal justice system.

This led to some victims and their families suing college and universities for failing to protect students from sexual violence on campus adequately. In Title IX history, the traditional focus was on sex discrimination, not sexual harassment or abuse, but that would soon change.

The U.S. Supreme Court first recognized that sex discrimination under Title IX encompassed sexual harassment in 1979, but it was not until Congress passed the Civil Rights Restoration Act in 1987 that the legal basis for holding colleges liable for sexual misconduct arose.

Initially, however, liability was limited to situations in which schools knew about sexual harassment or misconduct, but the schools acted with deliberate indifference to its existence. Eventually, however, this standard became less stringent, at least for schools on a regulatory level.

In 2001, the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education (OCR) issued regulatory guidance that it would apply a lesser standard than actual knowledge or deliberate indifference. Instead, schools could lose their federal funding under Title IX if they knew, or should have known, about sexual misconduct and failed to handle it properly and eliminate it.

This led to the established of the detailed Title IX procedures that all schools have in place today to investigate and discipline students suspected of sexual misconduct.

Title IX History and College Sexual Misconduct Proceedings

The fundamental purpose of Title IX has developed over the years to create mandated policies and procedures on most college and university campuses that deal with allegations of sexual misconduct swiftly and harshly. Fear of the loss of federal funding and enforcement efforts by OCR has propelled college campuses to adopt less rigorous standards for finding that sexual misconduct has occurred and alter the operation of their disciplinary system concerning this misconduct.

The current application of Title IX has been challenged by students wrongly accused of misconduct and others who believe that college campuses have oversimplified investigations and disciplinary proceedings that are best left to law enforcement.

Accused students now are fighting back against colleges who permanently have ruined their reputations and future career prospects by unfairly labeling them as sex offenders. This course of events makes it more evident than ever that individuals should protect their rights by enlisting the help of legal counsel.