Title IX - A Review for South Dakota's Public School Leaders (Part 1 - Background)

Recent media attention has highlighted how colleges and universities are struggling to deal with Title IX on campus. While the campaign against college sexual assault has raised awareness about Title IX, many school administrators are unaware that Title IX also applies to primary and secondary education. However, high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools are also facing Title IX challenges. Often, K-12 administrators are unsure about how to deal with allegations of sexual assault or sexual harassment. 

This 4-part series addresses Title IX in the K-12 environment and provides a series of steps that K-12 school districts in South Dakota can take to address these difficult issues.  

What Is Title IX ?

In June 1972, President Richard Nixon signed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 into law. 

Title IX is a federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs and activities operated by recipients of federal funds. It 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 educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Most often, Title IX is associated with inequity in collegiate athletics, because that is where efforts at achieving gender equality have concentrated. However, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has also issued guidance and enforced the law’s application to sex discrimination, which includes sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Who does Title IX protect?

Title IX’s protection applies to all elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities - public or private - that receive federal financial assistance. The protection extends to all aspects of these institutions’ education programs and activities. Title IX prohibits all forms of sex discrimination, including gender-based harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual violence.

Part 2- A School's Response to Sexual Violence