Updated: Jun 14
Fifty years ago in 1972 Richard Nixon signed into law Title IX, a federal law to address a void in gender equality and discrimination based on sex in education. Today, many people inexplicably make the connection to Title IX as equality for women’s sports – but gender equity in education is much more than equality in athletics. Title IX shifted the expectations of equality from the work place to the school and championed equal protection for participation in all that our educational institutions offer to students, regardless of sex.
Title IX’s role in educational institutions continues to evolve. The original intent was to guarantee equality in all educational environments and provide equal opportunities for women. Now, some see Title IX as a guardian, an expectation, and an amendment to the law that is there to protect and prevent discrimination on the basis of sex. As we celebrate 50 years of Title IX, the importance of younger and future generations understanding not where and what Title IX is, but how it has changed, protects everyone from discrimination under any educational program on the basis of sex.
Changes in Regulations
Shortly after Title IX was created, formal rules and procedures regarding discrimination in athletics were adopted (1975). Title IX policy continued to evolve depending on the views and interpretations of different administrations. These views and interpretations also influenced how this legislation was enacted and how new and unique circumstances that were addressed turned into practice, then policy. The use of Dear Colleague Letters communicated guidelines and procedures addressing a range of topics from sexual harassment to transgender rights. The last set of changes became effective in 2020 and look to change again in 2022. These changes redefined specific vocabulary and expanded due process rights while holding schools to the expectation of prompt, equitable investigations that have a transparent process for all participants.
Title IX and Sexual Harassment
In 1980, Alexander v. Yale was the first time that the worlds of sexual harassment and Title IX collied. In this landmark case, it was determined that sexual harassment of students could be considered sex discrimination. All school administrators, teachers, counselors, and school staff around the United States have to protect the learning environments of students. An essential role of being a building-level administrator is providing an environment where all students feel safe to learn. When a student is harassed, excluded, or singled out because of discrimination, the system has failed to deliver that guaranteed, safe environment. This is why school administrators need to know how to protect the learning environment and ensure that school is a safe place for students to learn. The last couple of years, schools have had to address a rise of sexual harassment and bullying. More than ever it is crucial to be able to identify and address these behaviors, and continue progressing toward developing and supporting processes that educate and support students involved in any type of harassment that may disrupt their right to education.
Now as we celebrate Title IX’s 50-year anniversary it is an important reminder for school administrators of their Title IX responsibilities including training, prompt and thorough investigations, record keeping, and remediation to support all students so that barriers to education are eliminated and all students have equal access to a safe learning environment regardless of sex. By not addressing these key responsibilities, administrators may be failing those students that sometimes are most in need of our help as well as leaving their institutions open to potential liability. To further explore Title IX as well as its original intent and inevitably its impact, please explore the educational and training opportunities available through McGrath Training Solutions.
McGrath Training Solutions has been a partner for thousands of schools and administrators across the United States. We’re here to help and train your school leadership and staff on any and all changes as they occur. If you would like to talk to us about how we can partner with you, please contact us.