Sex discrimination and Title IX: the legal landscape

Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments to the Civil Rights Act is a one-sentence federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Sexual harassment and all forms of sexual violence are expressions of sex discrimination and violate Title IX. The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has issued much guidance to enable educational institutions to comply with this law. The government’s website, notalone.gov, a set of questions and answers, and the report from the President’s task force, "Not Alone," update this guidance as of Spring 2014.

On July 1, 2014, the State of Connecticut’s "Act Concerning Sexual Assault, Stalking and Intimate Partner Violence on Campus (PA 14-11—sHB 5029)" became state law; it builds on the federal legislation and applies to both public and private institutions. This act codifies some of the best practices described in Title IX guidance. Highlights of its requirements include 1) written notification to victims of their rights and options under College policies when they report an incident, 2) reporting annually to the state’s Higher Education Committee concerning College policies, prevention and awareness campaigns, and the number of incidents and disciplinary cases involving sexual assault, stalking, and intimate partner violence; 3) training all employees and students annually; 4) establishing Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with at least one community-based sexual assault crisis service center and one community-based domestic violence agency; and 5) creating a campus resource team.

Related legislation includes the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act [20 USC § 1092(f)], known now as the Clery Act, but originally known as the Campus Security Act. This act is the landmark federal law that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses anually, including sexual assault (review Connecticut College's Annual Security Report). The law is tied to an institution's participation in federal student financial aid programs and it applies to most institutions of higher education both public and private. The Act is enforced by the United States Department of Education.