Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

What is Title IX?

Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments (Title IX) was passed to put an end to sex-based discrimination in education. This law covers a wide range of areas involved in the educational system.  Through Title IX, students can report instances of sexual assault, sexual harassment, discrimination, stalking, and even dating and domestic violence.

Academic institutions and their governing boards are liable under Title IX.  The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Education is the agency that has promulgated the obligations of colleges and universities on the basis of Title IX.

Congress enacted Title IX in order to compel fairness and equality in schools. Before the passage of Title IX, no laws prohibited discrimination in schools. It’s hard to think of a time when women could be excluded from teams in sports when there was no law prohibiting harassment on the basis of gender, and when harassing students who didn’t conform to gender stereotypes was considered an accepted cultural custom. A lot has changed due to the evolving nature in the application of Title IX. There is abundant proof that gender equality is good for society. It’s widely accepted that everyone benefits from gender equality and that gender equality promotes economic growth. In spite of all this progress, there is still much ground to cover. Gender discrimination and sexual harassment continue to haunt education. Nearly two-thirds of college students experience sexual harassment. Between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 U.S. students say they have been bullied at school.

Gender discrimination covers various forms of discriminatory behavior including sexual harassment, exclusion on the basis of gender, unequal allocation of federal assistance, among other types of conduct causing discrimination and inequality. If you or your son or daughter or a loved one is a student experiencing gender discrimination, filing a Title IX complaint may be appropriate. Attorneys in the Shubin Law Office are empathetic and dedicated to fighting for the constitutional rights of their clients. Attorney Andrew Shubin is highly respected for his relentless commitment to fighting for the rights of victims of unconstitutional gender discrimination in educational settings nationwide. Call (814) 826-3586 to schedule a free consultation.

If you have been retaliated against or told you are not welcome in a school activity because of your gender, you may have a cause of action under Title IX. Attorneys at the Law Firm of Andrew Shubin have brought successful lawsuits against academic institutions. They have also successfully represented clients who have been victims of sexual abuse and discrimination.  Attorney Andrew Shubin is known for the reputation he has built as someone who will pursue the rights of victims aggressively.

You can call us for a free and confidential consultation at (814) 826-3586.

Who Does Title IX Protect?

Title IX is a gender-neutral law that seeks to eliminate gender discrimination. The mechanics of this law are not intended to protect one specific gender or sexual orientation over another. The focus is typically on whether the inner-workings of the school policies, programs, or distribution of funds at issue discriminate unfairly. For example, in a recent decision, the OCR found that Tulane University violated Title IX in having female-only scholarships.

Under the current legal standard promulgated in the US Supreme Court decision of Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education Title IX is applied liberally to all victims of gender discrimination. It’s clear that Title IX evolves over time. The implementation and enforcement of policies prohibiting gender discrimination are intended to be the focus of Title IX. If you are concerned about a policy implemented in your son’s school that appear patently discriminatory, or if a program (regular or extracurricular) benefits a particular group more than others, talk to an experienced gender discrimination attorney before speculating. The complexities of Title IX make it one of the most misunderstood and debated laws. There is a lot of misinformation online funded by special interest groups.

When Can You Pursue a Title IX Claim?

Title IX claims can be brought if you are a student enrolled in an academic institution or if you’re employed or affiliated to an academic institution.  Title IX covers primarily schools that receive federal funding, even when there are no federal funds allocated to the activity at issue. The Civil Rights Restoration Act extends the application of Title IX to schools that receive federal funds. A Title IX claim can also be brought against a private institution.

The type of school you attend is not as important as the facts surrounding your case. The reason for this is that there is a wide consensus that gender discrimination shouldn’t be tolerated in academic settings. As stated by The Secretary of Education Commission on Opportunity in Athletics in 2003, Congress has not expressly specified that Title IX applies to public institutions only. Title IX essentially covers all areas of academic life. There are two main areas where Title IX claims have been successful.

Sports, Athletic, and Academic Opportunities

The impact of Title IX has been significant in sports, particularly in expanding opportunities for female athletes.  If you were denied a chance to be in a team and you suspect this was based on silent or underlying discrimination, you should look talk to an attorney, even if you have been told the basis for the decision was unbiased.  In these cases, courts will look for proof of disparity between the ratio of opportunities available for males and females and contrast that with the school’s gender ratio. Therefore, the criteria of the athletic team or group within the school to deny you access will not come into play as a basis of non-discrimination.

Funding of Programs and Unequal Pay

Title IX also applies when there is funding or sponsorship for an athlete, team or even an academic program that promotes gender inequality. Title IX has also been found to extend protections to coaches and athletic officials and lawsuits showing unequal pay.

Types of Sex-Based Discrimination that Title IX Protects

The courts reviewing Title IX seem to view this as an organic body of law.  The courts first determined that Title IX covers sexual harassment. This was followed by further developments prohibiting gender discrimination based on stereotypes.  If your son or daughter is hazed or harassed, even by students who look like him or her, a complaint on the basis of Title IX can be brought against the school.

Furthermore, Title IX protections aren’t limited to sports activities or a specific type of sexual conduct or orientation.  For example:

Transgender Students and Title IX

Transgender students may be able to receive protections under Title IX.  This is not based on a specific ruling. It’s a conclusion based on other cases brought under Title IX. Even though some courts have held that “transgender” is not a protected category under Title IX, there are rulings that give an indication that a plausible legal argument can be brought under Title IX.

In Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, the Supreme Court cited instances of “gender-oriented harassment” occurred as it reviewed evidence that the risk of sexual assault was obvious to school officials. And in Price Waterhouse Coopers v. Hopkins, the Supreme Court indicates a view that gender stereotyping constitutes sex discrimination under Title IX.  Some lower and appeals courts appeals have extended this view by holding that gender stereotyping can be proof of same-sex discrimination.

Harassment for Gender Stereotypes or Gender Non-Conformity

A Title IX violation occurs when harassment over sexual orientation student involves sexual conduct and misconceived stereotypes held by peers. This behavior violates Title IX when the harassment is based upon gender nonconformity. The difficulty of proving that harassment of LGBTQ students is a subject of debate among legal scholars. Some argue that federal courts must expand the prohibitions of Title IX to include protection against sexual harassment, irrespective of whether it involves gender stereotyping. Scholarly debates tend to signal issues that courts may try to answer. Therefore, transgender and LGBTQ students facing gender discrimination nationwide should seek a consultation with experienced counsel if they are facing unfair and irritating or hurtful conduct on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Sexual Harassment in Schools and Other Educational Institutions

Title IX has also been effective in combating sexual harassment that occurs in three types of situations: a hostile environment, quid pro quo, and peer to peer.  A hostile environment is one in which unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s performance.  Quid pro quo is the Latin term used to describe situations where the maintenance of employment is conditioned on allowing sexual advances. Peer to peer sexual harassment occurs when a person of authority knows of the harassment and responds with “deliberate indifference” to it.

Pervasive Bullying and Name Calling as a Violation of Title IX

Sexual harassment is generally a violation of civil rights. But it may not be a violation of Title IX if the harassment focuses on sexual orientation. This is generally the rule unless the harassment includes gender-stereotyping and/or advances of a sexual nature. The harassment must be severe and pervasive and not merely amount to “name-calling.”

However, there are different levels of intensity of “name-calling,” and there are instances when school officials and teachers are indifferent in spite of knowing well that students target an LGBTQ or disabled peers and pervasively harass them. When students commit suicide or try to harm themselves or others due to bullying begs the question as to whether the conduct amounts to a Title IX violation. A skilled Title IX attorney is prepared to look at this question with his professional insight. Pervasive bullying and name calling can meet the criteria needed to bring a successful Title IX complaint as well as a lawsuit for other civil rights violations. A dedicated Title IX attorney will be able to guide you as to the best course of action and if there is a basis to pursue a legal claim.

Employment Discrimination in Education Prohibited Under Title IX

Although a majority of employment discrimination cases can be brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many of those claims can also be brought under Title IX and there can be some instances when both claims can be brought concurrently (except it has been held money damages cannot be sought under both causes of action.)  If you are employed at an academic institution and you can bring a claim on the basis of both Title IX and Title VII.

Can You Get in Trouble for Reporting Title IX Violations?

Title IX provides whistleblower protection.  A whistleblower is a person who informs figures of authority about incidents of Title IX violations. The Supreme Court ruling in Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education extended the scope of Title IX to protect whistleblowers in cases of gender discrimination.  This ruling has important implications for school officials and students because they are protected from liability if they report problems of sexual assault, sexual harassment, violence, and discrimination within an academic institution.

Our Title IX Violation Attorneys Can Help

If you or your child was a victim of discrimination because of gender or sexual orientation, do not hesitate to call Shubin Law today. We offer a free consultation to those seeking legal guidance and/or representation for Title IX violations and sex-based discrimination. To meet with an experienced Title IX violations attorney, call (814) 826-3586.