Under Title IX, federally funded schools, colleges, and universities must protect their students from any sexual discrimination that may prevent or limit them from participating in school activities and educational programs. This includes sexual violence, gender-based harassment or bullying, sexual battery, sexual assault, and sexual coercion.
In order for a school or college to be in compliance with Title IX, it must follow three specific procedural requirements. A school, university, or college must:
- Publish and disseminate a “notice of nondiscrimination.”
- Designate a Title IX coordinator.
- Publish grievance procedures (typically in a handbook format) detailing an individual school’s process for reporting and resolving complaints.
A “notice of nondiscrimination” is usually a short paragraph or two that states that a school does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its educational programs, admissions, or employment opportunities, and mentions that all questions can be directed to the school’s Title IX coordinator. The notice must include the Title IX coordinator’s name and contact details.
It is part of the procedural requirements of Title IX that the notice of nondiscrimination be widely circulated on campus, and should be published in college newspapers, magazines, and other student and alumni publications so that students are made aware of the school’s position on sex-based discrimination.Designating a Title IX Coordinator
Schools and colleges must appoint one person to serve as the school’s Title IX coordinator, responsible for ensuring students’ rights are being protected and acting as the go-to person in all Title IX-related matters.
The coordinator’s core responsibilities include:
- Ensuring compliance with Title IX regulations, as well as an individual school’s policies
- Receiving sexual violence and harassment reports
- Investigating sex discrimination cases
- Meeting with students
- Answering questions
- Implementing grievance procedures
- Advising school or university officials
- Identifying issues within the school related to Title IX and coming up with solutions
The coordinator can be a school employee, such as a professor or counselor, but it is generally recommended that schools hire a full-time Title IX coordinator to avoid conflicts of interest, and to ensure that students’ rights are being fully protected.
As is standard with the procedural requirements, the Title IX coordinator must be properly trained on all aspects of Title IX, the specific school’s policies on gender-based harassment, and how to handle sex discrimination complaints.Responding to Reports of Sexual Violence
According to Title IX, schools and colleges must develop and publish their own “grievance procedures” for reporting sex discrimination, fully investigating the complaint, as well as outlining steps to resolve complaints in a timely and equitable manner. Even though Title IX allows individual schools to adopt their own policies, the procedures must include the following:
- Detailed definitions of sexual harassment, violence, and other prohibited behaviors
- Reporting protocols (including details on confidential reporting)
- The Title IX coordinator’s contact information
- List of resources for sexual assault victims (hotlines, rape crisis centers, local hospitals, police stations, etc.)
- Protective measures for victims (leave of absence, no contact orders, counseling services, etc.)
- Details of the resolution procedure
- List of sanctions for committing gender-based misconduct
The grievance procedures must also include notices that Title IX prohibits retaliation and that students can still file a criminal complaint if they report a Title IX complaint.