Title IX

Name of law: Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act (Title IX)

Why it matters: Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex by educational institutions that receive federal funding.

When it passed: 1972

In 1972, Congress enacted a federal law to prevent sex-based discrimination in schools. Over time, court cases have interpreted the law to require schools to protect students from sex-based harassment and sexual violence. Under Title IX, officially titled the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, survivors of sexual violence can legally hold their schools accountable for keeping them safe. Title IX applies to all colleges and universities that receive any federal funding, including student financial aid.

1. Colleges that receive federal funding must protect their community against sex-based discrimination, including sexual violence.

TItle IX requires institutions to protect all students, faculty, and staff from sex-based discrimination, a term that includes both sexual harassment and sexual violence. If the administration is made aware of an incident, colleges must take immediate steps to address the issue. Since its enactment, no college has lost federal funding for violating Title IX, but some institutions have had to pay significant damages and legal fees in cases brought to court.


2. Colleges must provide support and security for victims of sexual violence.

Under Title IX, colleges must ensure that someone who experiences sexual violence or sex-based discrimination is cared for and given access to support services. The institution must also take actions to prevent the violence, harassment, or discrimination from happening again. These actions may include: issuing no-contact orders to the accused; making reasonable changes to the schedules, housing arrangements, and/or extracurricular activities of the survivor; and otherwise protecting the right to an education free of violence, discrimination, or harassment. If certain accommodations are deemed necessary, the school, not the complaining student, must pay all applicable costs.


3. There should be established procedures for handling complaints of sex-discrimination and sexual violence.

Title IX requires colleges to establish procedures for handling complaints of sex-based discrimination and sexual violence. The Title IX Coordinator at each school must be easily accessible, and the school must promptly investigate all complaints filed, regardless of whether outside law enforcement is involved. This investigation should take place within a semester, if possible, and disciplinary action should be taken if sufficient evidence is found, with the right of all parties to appeal.


4. Cases of sexual violence cannot use mediation in place of formal hearings.

Mediation is sometimes used as an informal dispute resolution method. Title IX policy prohibits mediation as an alternative to formal hearings in cases of sexual violence. Procedures for these formal hearings must be established ahead of time.


5. Title IX complainants should be free from retaliation

A person cannot be punished for reporting sexual violence, sex-based discrimination, or making a formal Title IX complaint. Colleges may not retaliate against a complainant for their action, and they must protect students from retaliation by third parties, as well. For example, a college can issue a no-contact order to a person or group of people who are harassing or causing distress to the complainant.


Read the full text.

Legal Disclaimer
The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) website provides general information that is intended, but not guaranteed, to be correct and up-to-date. The information is not presented as a source of legal advice. You should not rely, for legal advice, on statements or representations made within the website or by any externally referenced Internet sites. If you need legal advice upon which you intend to rely in the course of your legal affairs, consult a competent, independent attorney. RAINN does not assume any responsibility for actions or non-actions taken by people who have visited this site, and no one shall be entitled to a claim for detrimental reliance on any information provided or expressed.

The rape kit backlog is currently one of the biggest obstacles to prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence.

Read More

Out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, 310 are reported to the police.

More Stats

A $25 monthly gift can educate 15,000 people about preventing sexual violence. Can you think of a better way to spend $1 a day?

Donate Monthly