Do You Know Your Title IX History?
If you know any woman who is an athlete, scientist, or student at a trade school, you know someone who has benefited from Title IX. The law, which has been around for almost 5 decades, was originally enacted to ensure equal educational opportunities for all persons regardless of their gender. It has been largely successful in achieving that goal.
It has also been used as a tool that has unjustly deprived people of their educational opportunities due to unfair and biased campus investigation and adjudication processes that have gutted many important due process protections for accused individuals. Through it all Title IX has been the subject of constant debate. Why is Title IX so important?
Its Purpose was to Promote Equality
Created, in part, as a response to certain disparities in educational opportunities due only to gender, the law has opened up many opportunities that had previously been denied to women. By its 40th anniversary in 2012, Title IX had helped:
- Increase participation in women’s high school sports by around 1000% and in college sports by 600%
- Women athletes thrive, contributing to record-setting wins including 3 World Cup victories (they won their 4th in 2019) and 53 medals in the Summer Olympics of 2008
- Improved women’s math performance: Around 1 in 3 of the top performers on the SAT math test among 7th and 8th graders are women
- Increased the percentage of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees awarded to women in STEM
- Provided women access to career and technical educations; these programs used to admit only men but now 1 in 4 students are women
Title IX was enacted to protect students of any gender who face any gender based discriminatory behavior that impairs their educational opportunities. These victories were put into motion by a federal government that realized women’s equality would not be achieved without a push—and did its part to make a difference.
There are also many defeats under Title IX. Not shown in the above statistics are the stories of individual students who have unjustly been found responsible for violations of their university’s Title IX policy after participating in a system of investigation and adjudication that is oftentimes characterized by an absence of any meaningful due process rights such as the ability to be represented by an attorney, the ability to confront and cross-examine your accuser, and the application of a heightened standard of proof usually accorded to a person accused of such serious conduct. Please refer to our blogs for a more detailed discussion of these issues. These stories of injustice represent the failures of Title IX to live up to its intended goals.
Title IX’s Start
In 1972, Richard Nixon signed Title IX into law after it passed Congress. The law officially took effect on July 1 of that year, but the Senate continued proposing and debating amendments thereafter. In 1975 regulations on sports funding were clarified, with elementary schools expected to comply by 1976 and high schools and colleges expected to comply by 1979. During this time, Title IX faced court challenges that helped clarify the legality and scope of the law’s tenets.
A Death, and Resuscitation
In 1984, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to Title IX by ruling that it did not apply to programs that were not targeted by federal funding. This stripped the protections that had helped women’s sports and other extracurricular programs flourish. It took 3 years for Congress to respond, and finally in 1988 the Civil Rights Restoration restored the original scope of the law.
Title IX Jurisprudence Develops
With Title IX once again covering all educational programs, proponents worked to clarify additional rights under the law and maximize its effect. A 1992 Supreme Court case authorized anyone who filed a complaint under Title IX to sue for damages if the alleged gender discrimination was left unresolved. A 1996 court case ruled that sexual harassment in the educational setting was a violation of Title IX and required schools to develop training and reporting measures to prevent such issues from arising and to respond to and remediate such issues once they came to the attention of the institution.
Eventually, following the precedents set in Title VII jurisprudence (employment law) that declared sexual assault as an extreme form of sexual harassment, Title IX came to possess its present form.
Still a Contentious Law that Continues to Evolve
Title IX celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012, but the law is far from settled and remains controversial. Court cases, Department of Education guidelines, and resolutions from the Office of Civil Rights continue to shape its impact and enforcement in schools. While the previous administration dramatically decreased due process protections for persons accused under Title IX, the current Department of Education has sought to restore many of those rights and protections.
In addition, many of the individual states have also added additional regulations that impact how the Title IX investigation and adjudication process is handled in those jurisdictions.
Title IX gives us a lot to be grateful for, but, in its present iteration, it is a cause for great concern if you find yourself on the wrong side of a complaint. Our team at Parisi, Coan & Saccocio, PLLC is focused on Title IX defense, and dedicates time to keeping up with the latest guidance and enforcement. Title IX defense is a serious and complex process. If you’re facing a Title IX investigation, do not risk the life-changing consequences of a bad result.