Title IX applies to all public and private schools that get money from the federal government. This law expands beyond college sports and does more than make sport opportunities equal for boys and girls. In some situations, victims of sexual abuse and harassment might be able to use this law.

A victim may be able use Title IX to stop harassment as long as the school has control over the harasser. The harassment must also limit the student’s ability to participate in school and school activities.


Title IX defines sexual harassment as any unwanted sexual act, which may include:

  • Sexual advances 

  • Requests for sexual favors 

  • Verbal, nonverbal, or physical acts of a sexual nature

Who causes harassment?

Different people can cause harassment. A court will look at a case differently based on the type of person committing the harassment. The most common people to commit harassment are:

  1. School employees 

  2. Other students 

  3. Non-employee third parties (e.g., visiting speakers or visiting athletes) 

There are also two types of sexual harassment the law stops:

  1. Harassment by the use of threats, which occurs when a person of power forces a minor to submit to sexual acts by threatening them. 

  2. Hostile environment harassment, which occurs when a minor is harassed because of his or her sex. The harassment must be so bad that a hostile environment is created and limits the student’s ability to participate in school and school activities.

Harassment by the use of threats
Harassment by the use of threats occurs when a person of power forces a minor to submit to sexual acts by threatening him or her. The threats can come in many forms, including threatening to give a bad grade or kicking a student off of a sport team. It does not matter if the victim gives in to the sexual act.

When threats are used on a minor, the student’s ability to participate in school and school activities may have been denied. This type of harassment may be against the law.


Hostile environment harassment
Hostile environment harassment occurs when a minor is harassed because of his or her sex. The harassment must be so bad that a hostile environment is created. This hostile environment must limit the student’s ability to participate in school and school activities.

Generally, this type of harassment happens by peers of the victim and third parties. When this type of harassment occurs, courts will look at several factors to see if the acts were bad enough to limit the student’s ability to participate in school and school activities.

For more information on these factors, look at the Office of Civil Rights guide.

* This webpage does not serve as legal advice and is intended simply to provide you with basic resources. If you find yourself amidst legal issues, consider engaging legal counsel.

 
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