Sexual violence in schools and on campus is a pressing civil rights issue: when students suffer sexual assault and harassment, they are deprived of equal and free access to an education.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity that receives federal funding. Title IX is a powerful tool for students who want to combat sexual violence at school and on college campuses. Under Title IX, discrimination on the basis of sex can include sexual harassment, rape, and sexual assault.
TITLE IX 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.”
The Women’s Rights Project, in collaboration with Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFER) — a national nonprofit that empowers students to hold colleges accountable for sexual assault in their communities — has put together the fact sheet, podcast series, and other resources on this page to get the word out to student activists about how they can use Title IX as an effective tool for change.
Under the requirements of Title IX schools receiving federal funds have a legal obligation to protect students from gender-based violence and harassment – including sexual assault. Use this to find out more about schools’ obligations under Title IX and students’ rights.
The Women’s Rights Project has participated in a number of court cases in which courts have taken important steps to hold schools accountable for ignoring sexual harassment or sexual assault that they knew about in school or on campus.
> J.K. v. Arizona Board of Regents (02/26/2008)
A federal court rejected Arizona State University’s (ASU) argument that it was not responsible under Title IX when a campus athlete raped a student, even though it had previously expelled the athelte for severe sexual harassment of multiple other women on campus. The case settled and ASU agreed to appoint a statewide Student Safety Coordinator who will review and reform policies for reporting and investigating incidents of sexual harassment and assault, and award the plaintiff $850,000 in damages and fees.
> Simpson v. University of Colorado (08/24/2006)
A federal court found that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that the University of Colorado (CU) acted with “deliberate indifference” with regard to students Lisa Simpson and Anne Gilmore, who were sexually assaulted by CU football players and recruits. The University settled the case and agreed to hire a new counselor for the Office of Victim’s Assistance, appoint an independent Title IX advisor, and pay $2.5 million in damages.
> Fitzgerald v. Barnstable School Committee (08/29/2008)
The United States Supreme Court held that public school students may challenge sex discrimination under both Title IX and the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.
> Blog: Students Mobilize for Change During Sexual Assault Awareness Month (4/1/2009)
Schools and colleges around the country are waking up to the power of Title IX to combat sexual violence on campus. School administrators can’t afford to ignore Title IX.
> Huffington Post: Ariela Migdal: Take Back Our Campuses (4/3/2008)
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and students across the country are protesting sexual assault on campus by holding Take Back the Night rallies.
> License to Thrive: 35 Years of Title IX (off-site)
“There have been reforms and efforts to improve the climate for study for women in colleges and graduate programs through mechanisms like Title IX enforcement around sexual harassment issues. However, there is a lot of blockage in the system when it comes to women fulfilling their dreams. There are very high rates of sexual harassment reported by female students in colleges and universities and graduate programs as well as in elementary and secondary education.”
—Gwendolyn Mink, Professor at Smith College and daughter of former U.S. Representative Patsy Mink (co-author of Title IX legislation)
For more information about the history of Title IX, go to licensetothrive.org
Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.