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Sex-Based Harassment

NEW Title IX Regulations Regarding Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence

On November 29, 2018, draft regulations for Title IX rule making were released for 60 days of public comment. May 6, 2020, Secretary DeVos released the Department's final Title IX rule which amends the regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The final regulations specify how recipients of Federal financial assistance, including elementary and secondary schools, must respond to allegations of sexual harassment and assault consistent with Title IX’s prohibition against sex discrimination. Title IX Coordinators should work with district legal counsel to understand how the new regulations affect the district’s Title IX policies and procedures and make revisions, as necessary.  The new regulations  into effect Aug 14, 2020.

For more information on the Office for Civil Rights Outreach, Prevention, Education, and Non-discrimination (OPEN) Center, see the press release on the New, Proactive Civil Rights Compliance Center
 

Webinar Series

An Overview of the New Title IX Rule: What it is and Steps to Take

This two-part informational webinar series was delivered virtually Oct 2020, by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), in collaboration with the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB).  For more information, or to request a copy of the series, please contact Rebekah Ottenbreit at Ottenbreit_r@cde.state.co.us


Sexual Harassment

The new Title IX Regulations' definition of sexual harassment replaces the previous Title IX definition of sex-based harassment. Under the new regulations, sexual harassment, as defined by Title IX, is conduct on the basis of sex that meets one or more of the following descriptions:

  • A school employee conditioning an educational benefit, service or an individual’s participation in an educational activity upon unwelcome sexual conduct (“quid pro quo”)

  • Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be “so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive” that it effectively denies the victim access to the school’s education programs

  • “Sexual assault,” “dating violence,” “domestic violence,” or “staking” as those terms are defined under the Clery Act and the Violence Against Women Act

Anyone, regardless of race, sexual orientation, disability status, or gender identity might be a victim or perpetrator of sexual harassment. 

For more information, see the Office for Civil Rights blog posting on the definition of sexual harassment under the new Title IX Rule


Civil Rights Initiative to Combat Sexual Assault in Public Schools

February 26, 2020, Secretary De Vos announced a new civil rights initiate to combat sexual assault in public schools which will include the following activities:
 
  • Compliance Reviews: to be conducted by the Office for Civil Rights
  • Public Awareness and Support: to be provided by the Office for Civil Rights
  • Data Quality Reviews: to be conducted by the Office for Civil Rights
  • Proposed CRDC Data Collection: OCR has proposed, for the 2019-2020 data collection, to collect more detailed data on sexual assault.  The proposed data collection includes incidents perpetrated by school staff or school personnel.  If adopted, the inclusion of this data would make the CRDC collection the first universal collection to gather such data systemically by school.

Read the press release at Civil Rights Initiate to Combat Sexual Assault in Public Schools

For more information on how the Office for Civil Rights plans to combat sexual violence in public schools, view this OCR Short Webinar on Sexual Violence in Public Schools

Considerations for School District Sexual Misconduct Policies

In September 2016, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault issued Considerations for School District Sexual Misconduct Policies highlighting a number of factors to assist districts in drafting a sexual misconduct policy.  The Task Force recommends that districts consider developing a separate sexual misconduct policy or including a separate section in existing comprehensive anti-discrimination policy dedicated to addressing the unique issues of sexual misconduct.  Use of a comprehensive drafting process which considers the unique aspects of the district and consultation with legal counsel to ensure full compliance with all applicable laws are also recommended. 

Prevention and Preventative Education

The Office for Civil Rights requires preventative education that includes:

  • What constitutes sexual harassment under the new Title IX Rule
  • The school’s/district's Title IX policy, grievance procedures, and consequences
  • How to report sexual harassment
  • For all K-12 staff, students, and parents/guardians

How to Report Sexual Harassment

All of the educational community needs to know how to report sexual harassment.  Under the new Title IX Rule, schools must notify all applicants for admission or employment, students, parents or legal guardians of K-12 schools, employees, and unions or professional organizations holding collective bargaining agreements that:

  • The school/district does not discriminate on the basis of sex
  • It is required under Title IX not to discriminate on the basis of sex
  • This requirement extends to admissions and employment
  • Inquiries may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator, to the Office for Civil Rights, or to both

For more information, see the Office for Civil Rights Short Webinar on How to Report Sexual Harassment

Gender-Based Harassment and Bullying

Gender-based harassment, also covered under Title IX, is unwelcome conduct based on an individual’s actual or perceived sex, gender identity, or nonconformity with sex stereotypes.  Gender-based harassment may include:

  • Acts of verbal, nonverbal or physical aggression
  • Intimidation or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping or failure to conform to perceived sex or sex-stereotypes

Such acts are considered to be gender-based harassment even if they do not involve conduct of a sexual nature because the conduct is sex-based.

Title IX prohibits sexual harassment and gender-based harassment of all students, regardless of the sex of the harasser or the target and regardless of the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the harasser or the target.

For more information on gender-based harassment, harassment and bullying, see:

Bullying Prevention and Education

For information on bullying prevention and education, see: