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Sex Discrimination in Education

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities which receive federal financial assistance. Title IX states that:

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 program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

Education Programs and Activities Covered by Title IX

Title IX covers state and local agencies that receive ED funds. These agencies include approximately 16,000 local school districts, 3,200 colleges and universities, and 5,000 for-profit schools as well as libraries and museums. Also included are vocational rehabilitation agencies and education agencies of 50 states, the District of Columbia, and territories and possessions of the United States.

Programs and activities which receive federal funds must operate in a nondiscriminatory manner. These programs and activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Admissions
  • Recruitment
  • Financial aid
  • Academic programs
  • Student treatment and services
  • Counseling and guidance
  • Discipline
  • Classroom assignment
  • Grading
  • Vocational education
  • Recreation
  • Physical education
  • Athletics
  • Housing

The Office for Civil Rights Enforces Title IX

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for enforcing Title IX. The principal enforcement activity is the investigation and resolution of complaints filed by people alleging sex discrimination. OCR has investigated and worked with recipients to resolve many kinds of civil rights problems, including the following:

  • the provision of less than a fair share of funds for athletic scholarships to females;

  • inequitable pay for female teachers holding similar teaching positions to those held by male counterparts; and

  • discrimination against female students on the basis of pregnancy.
How to File a Discrimination Complaint with OCR

Anyone who believes there has been an act of discrimination on the basis of sex against any person or group in a program or activity which receives federal financial assistance, may file a complaint with OCR under Title IX. The person or organization filing the complaint need not be a victim of the alleged discrimination but may complain on behalf of another person or group. A complaint should be sent to the OCR enforcement office that serves the state in which the alleged discrimination occurred. A complaint usually must be filed within 180 days of the date of the alleged discrimination.

Complaint letters should explain who was discriminated against; in what way; by whom or by what institution or agency; when the discrimination took place; who was harmed; who can be contacted for further information; the name, address and telephone number of the complainant(s) and the alleged offending institution or agency; and as much background information as possible about the alleged discriminatory act(s).

If an investigation indicates there has been a violation of Title VI, OCR attempts to obtain voluntary compliance. If it cannot obtain voluntary compliance, OCR will initiate enforcement action, either by referring the case to the Department of Justice for court action, or by initiating proceedings, before an administrative law judge, to terminate Federal funding to the recipient's program or activity in which the prohibited discrimination occurred. Terminations are made only after the recipient has had an opportunity for a hearing before an administrative law judge, and after all other appeals have been exhausted.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified civil rights attorney
to help you protect your rights.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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