Title IX is a landmark federal law passed in 1972 to promote equality in all aspects of education. The law prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. This includes all educational institutions, such as K-12 schools, colleges, universities, and any other programs (e.g., 4-H) to widely disseminate information on Title IX protections on the basis of sex, as well as the name, address, and telephone number (or other contact information) of the designated Title IX Coordinator.
Title IX ensures every person, regardless of their sex, has the right to a safe and inclusive learning environment, free from discrimination. The law protects against discrimination in all areas of education, including admission, enrollment, academic programs, financial aid, athletics, and student services. It also prohibits sexual harassment and assault, including harassment based on sexual stereotypes.
Title IX also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. Specifically, the law provides that no person 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 is a crucial tool for ensuring equality in education, as it promotes fairness, safety, and equal opportunities for all students. By enforcing Title IX, educational institutions can create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment that empowers all students to reach their full potential.
Who is Covered Under Title IX
Educational institutions: Educational institutions receiving federal financial assistance must provide equal opportunities to male and female students in all aspects of education, including academics, athletics, and employment. Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity, from elementary schools to postsecondary institutions in the following programs:
Admissions: Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in admissions to educational programs and activities. Educational institutions must ensure male and female applicants are not subject to discrimination on the basis of their sex.
Employees and Faculty: Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in employment by educational institutions receiving federal financial assistance. This includes discrimination in hiring, promotion, and pay. Educational institutions must ensure employees are not discriminated against on the basis of sex, including pregnancy, parental status, sexual stereotyping, and sexual harassment.
Athletics programs: Title IX requires educational institutions provide equal opportunities for male and female students to participate in sports. This includes equal access to facilities, equipment, and coaching. Educational institutions must ensure all athletes have an equal opportunity to participate and receive the same level of benefits and opportunities.
Examples of Discrimination
Sex discrimination involves treating someone (anyone participating in an educational program, service, or activity, e.g., an applicant, employee, participant, or student) less favorably because of that person's sex. This includes discrimination on the basis of sex stereotypes and sex-related characteristics, including sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy and related conditions.
Sex-based harassment is a form of sex discrimination. Sex-based harassment can be sexual in nature, such as unwelcome sexual advances or pressure, sexual assault, requests for sexual favors, verbal harassment such as jokes of a sexual nature or discussion of sexual topics and sharing explicit digital media. Sex-based harassment also includes harassment of an individual because of sex-related characteristics, such as that person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or nonconformance with gender stereotypes.
In addition to harassment, it is illegal discrimination to threaten, coerce, intimidate, or interfere with anyone who are exercising their rights under Title IX or who is assisting others in doing so.
Retaliation against an individual who has filed a complaint or assisted in an investigation is also illegal. This means that if someone reports an incident of sexual harassment or discrimination, they are protected from retaliation by the institution, or the individuals involved. It is important for students to understand these rights and protections so that they can speak up if they experience or witness any form of discrimination or harassment and feel safe doing so.
Know Your Rights
The Title IX Coordinator at your school or university is responsible for overseeing the school's compliance with Title IX and investigating complaints of sex discrimination. The Title IX Coordinator can provide information about the school's policies and procedures for handling Title IX complaints and can assist you in filing a complaint.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (OASCR) or your educational Title IX Coordinator will investigate your complaint promptly and fairly. The investigation will typically include interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence. Once the investigation is complete, OASCR or your Title IX Coordinator will issue a decision and, if necessary, work with the school or university to develop a plan to remedy the situation and prevent future violations of Title IX. It is important to note that retaliation for filing a Title IX complaint is prohibited under federal law. If you experience retaliation for filing a complaint, you should report it immediately to OASCR by sending an email to email@example.com.
Laws, Regulations & Guidance
- USDA DR 4330-002: Nondiscrimination in Programs and Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance from USDA
- Department of Justice Title IX Manual
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture Title IX Fact Sheet
- Department of Education Title IX Guidance
- Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance: Sex-Related Eligibility Criteria for Male and Female Athletic Teams
- How to Report Sexual Harassment Under Title IX
- New Title IX Protections Against Sexual Assault
- Due Process Protections under Title IX
- USDA Title IX
Whom may I contact for further information on filing a discrimination complaint?
You may contact the Office of Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Information Research Service at (866) 632-9992 (toll free) or (202) 260-1026 or send an email to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For inquiries related to discrimination complaints, email: email@example.com.
For other inquiries, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.), should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 690-0443 (voice and TDD) or contact us through the Telecommunications Relay Service at 711 or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish).