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Articles of Interest for Criminal Defense Attorneys and Their Clients, College Students and Their Parents, Athletes, and Title IX Advocates

What Are Title IX violations?

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, often referred to simply as Title IX, is a federal law which prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded schools at all levels. The essence of the law is that a school may not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat a person differently on the basis of their sex. Read on for more information on what may constitute violations of Title IX.

Recruitment, Admissions, and Counseling

Title IX prohibits federally funded schools from discriminating on the basis of sex in their recruitment and admissions practices. Some potential Title IX violations in the recruitment and admissions process include:

  • Making statements in written school recruitment materials, admission forms, or materials used to counsel students on class or career selection that discriminate against individuals of a certain sex.
  • Failing to allow any student to participate in any program due to their sex.
  • Selecting students for admission to a program based on their sex.

Financial Assistance

A federally funded school may not discriminate on the basis of sex when making decisions about financial assistance. Potential Title IX violations pertaining to financial assistance include:

  • Using an applicant’s sex as the basis to provide different amounts or types of financial assistance.
  • Applying different criteria based on the sex of the applicants when administering assistance.
  • Assisting any agency, organization, or person who offers sex-restricted student aid.

Note: A school does not violate Title IX if it offers:

  • A scholarship, fellowship, or award which is created by a legal instrument such as a will, trust, or the act of a foreign government, as long as the overall effect of the award is nondiscriminatory.
  • Study at foreign institutions for only one sex, if similar opportunities for members of the opposite sex are provided.
  • Athletic financial assistance, if male and female athletes are offered scholarships in proportion to their participation rates in school-sponsored sports.

Athletics

The law prohibits sex discrimination in interscholastic, intercollegiate, or intramural athletics at federally funded schools. A school’s athletic programs could violate Title IX by :

  • Failing to provide equal athletic opportunities for members of both sexes. Equal opportunities include providing equivalent: equipment and supplies; games and practice time; travel and per diem allowances; coaching and athletic tutoring; coach and tutor compensation; locker rooms; competitive and practice facilities; medical and training facilities and services; housing and dining services; publicity; recruitment; and support services.
  • Failing to provide reasonable financial assistance to athletes of both sexes. The law does not require that each individual scholarship offered to a male or female athlete be equal. However, it does require that the total amount of scholarship aid be equal between male and female athletes in proportion to their participation rates.
  • Offering work-related aid or loans only to athletes of one sex.
  • Failing to allow athletes to participate in a sport that is offered for one sex but not the other, although only in certain circumstances. Schools are not required to sponsor teams for both sexes in all sports. But, for non-contact sports, a school must either allow an athlete to try out for an opposite-sex team or it must sponsor a separate team for the excluded sex.

Sex-Based Harassment

Title IX offers protections to students against sex-based harassment in the classroom or while participating in school-sponsored activities. Sex-based harassment can include:

  • Sexual harassment that is so severe that a student is unable to participate in or benefit from educational programs or activities. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, such as unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors.
  • Physical sexual violence or non-consensual sexual contact.
  • Harassment based on a person’s sex or perceived sex, including their gender identity or non-conformance to gender stereotypes.

Pregnant and Parenting Students

Under Title IX’s requirements, a school may not discriminate against students who are pregnant or parenting. Some forms of this type of discrimination include:

  • Applying any rule concerning parental, family, or marital status that treats people differently on the basis of sex.
  • Excluding students from educational programs or activities based on pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, or termination of pregnancy.
  • Asking applicants about their marital status before they are admitted.
  • Excluding any pregnant or parenting student from educational or extracurricular programs.

Discipline

Title IX also prohibits federally-funded schools from subjecting a person to different rules or discipline based on sex. A school may violate Title IX if it:

  • Imposes different consequences on students with similar disciplinary histories for the same rule violation, if gender was a factor in selecting the form of discipline.
  • Uses gender as criteria to involuntarily assign a student to an alternative school.
  • Regularly imposes harsher disciplinary consequences on students of one sex in comparison to the other.

Single-Sex Education

Title IX limits when and how federally funded schools can provide single-sex educational programs and activities. Generally, a school may not:

  • Provide a single-sex non-vocational school for students through the 12th grade without offering an equal educational opportunity for the opposite sex through either a single gender or a coeducational school.
  • Provide single-sex classes without providing a substantially equal class for the excluded sex.
  • Prevent transgender students from attending or participating in a single-sex school, class, or activity in accordance with their gender identity.

Employment

Title IX also protects school employees from discrimination based on their sex. A school might violate this provision of Title IX if it:

  • Recruits or hires an employee or student based on their sex.
  • Promotes or offers other benefits to employees of one sex but not the other.
  • Discriminates against an employee based on their marital status or because they are pregnant or a parent.

Retaliation

Title IX prohibits a school from retaliating against an individual for reporting, complaining about, or participating in an investigation of discrimination under Title IX.

If you feel that you or your child has experienced sex discrimination in a federally funded school either as a student or an employee, our experienced Title IX attorney can help you understand your legal options. Contact Duffy Law online or by calling (203) 946-2000.

Felice Duffy

Attorney Felice Duffy

Attorney At Duffy Law

Attorney Felice Duffy served as an Assistant United States Attorney for ten years after beginning her legal career at two prestigious firms (one in CT and one in NY) and then clerking for two federal judges. A life-long Title IX advocate, she brought a legal action under the then-new Title IX statute against UCONN while an undergraduate to compel the creation of its women’s varsity soccer program. She went on to become a first-team Division I All-American, was selected to be on the first U.S. National Women’s Team, and spent 10 years as Head Coach of the Yale women's soccer team. Attorney Duffy has Ph.D. in Education/Sports Psychology and has spoken to, and conducted trainings for, over 50 schools and organizations on a wide range of topics involving athletics, the law, and social justice. You can reach Felice at (203) 946-2000.
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