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Are Private Schools Subject to Title IX?

Are Private Schools Subject to Title IX?

Parents have options when it comes to their children’s education in a school setting. There are public, private, and charter schools available to provide different kinds of educational experiences that parents may prefer over others. If a parent’s concern for his or her child includes how the school regards their civil rights, however, they might wonder if private schools are ever subject to Title IX – and if so, to what extent?

What Title IX Prohibits

When a school is subject to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, it means that it can’t engage in any form of sex discrimination. People commonly associate Title IX with fairness in athletics opportunities, but any program or educational activity applies as long as it receives federal financial aid.

This means that schools funded by the federal government are entirely subject to Title IX, thus, they are prohibited from treating current or prospective students differently based upon their sex.

Such treatment can be classified by the following aspects of education:

  • How children are recruited or admitted to a school or program
  • How financial aid is distributed
  • Enrollment in academic programs
  • How discipline is carried out
  • Which classroom assignments are given out
  • How grades and evaluations are determined
  • Athletics, physical education, and other extracurricular activities
  • Recreation
  • Housing (if applicable)

Additionally, schools that receive federal funding must respond to sexual harassment allegations and other claims alleging unfair treatment of someone based upon his or her sex.

Does Title IX Ever Apply to Private Schools?

Title IX does not apply to schools that do not receive federal funding. This means that a private school or university that is entirely funded from sources that don’t include the federal government isn’t obligated to prohibit the same activities that Title IX prohibits.

At a glance, it can seem like sending a child to a private school means they’ll be subjected to unfair treatment. What’s not as well known about private schools, however, is that many actually do accept some forms of financial assistance from the federal government.

This assistance is typically used to fund programs such as:

  • Reduced price or free breakfast and lunch programs
  • Upgrades for facilities or tech
  • Remedial education
  • Special education
  • Opportunities for low-income students

When private schools accept funding for programs like these, they become subject to Title IX and often conduct themselves similarly to public schools in that regard.

An Exception for Religious Schools

Many private schools are religious in nature, and many religious treat the sexes differently. When a religious school’s policies discriminate based upon gender because of the religious tenets of the organization, then Title IX doesn’t apply whether or not the school received federal funding.

To name a few examples, some denominations of various religions have specific beliefs about keeping men and women separate or providing qual educational or athletic opportunities to either sex. When a religious school designs such policies based upon the teachings of its religion, then Title IX does not apply.