Title IX of the Education Amendments

Title IX of 1972

Title IX is a federal civil rights law passed as a part of the Education Amendments of 1972. The law prohibits sex discrimination in “any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Title IX specifically states that no person, on the basis of sex, shall be “excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination” in an academic, extracurricular, or any other education program that receives federal funding. 

The word “sex” in Title IX refers to not only biological sex, but encompasses all sexual orientations and gender identities, and thereby includes prohibiting discrimination by basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and protects pregnant people and those affected by sexual harassment. 


Title IX Final Rule & 2022

Final Rule (2020)

On May 6th, 2020, the Department of Education issued the Final Rule under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, updating definitions and standards as well as specifying how schools are required to respond.

Final Rule’s changes limit what situations can be considered harassment. A situation only counts as sexual harassment if it is “unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would find so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it denies a person equal educational access.” Title IX Final Rule sets standards of what the minimum requirement of response is and sets exact rules, indicating what schools are legally required to do. 

Some other updates include:

Title IX (2022)

In June of 2022, another set of updates to Title IX was proposed by the Department of Education. These proposed regulations would broaden the definition of sexual harassment and clarify that discrimination based on sex includes gender identity and sexual orientation, effectively strengthening the protection LGBTQIA+ students would receive. Title IX Final Rule will remain the rule of law unless and until the proposed changes are passed.


Elementary, Secondary, and Postsecondary Schools

Title IX applies to elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools. However, some regulations and enforcement of Title IX may differ as laws apply differently to minors. 

Those who work in an elementary or secondary school are federally mandated reporters who are required to report any confirmed or suspected abuse. Meanwhile, colleges and universities must only respond to a Title IX complaint if it is brought to the Title IX coordinator.

Some other differences in regulations and the enforcement of Title IX include:

  • In response to complaints, elementary and secondary schools focus on prevention, while postsecondary schools focus on accountability
  • Postsecondary schools must hold a live hearing while elementary and secondary schools are not required to do so
  • Minors in the K-12 school system are awarded more confidentiality than those over 18
  • A single Title IX coordinator can be responsible for an entire K-12 school district while colleges tend to have a Title IX office with many coordinators available


Know Your Rights

After someone has experienced discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment, they can file a complaint or press criminal charges under Title IX. Those affected by discrimination; however, are not required to report what occurred. 

Enforcing Regulations

The United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) enforces Title IX. The OCR “evaluates, investigates, and resolves complaints” and offers guidance to keep all educational systems compliant with Title IX.

Title IX requires that all grievances and complaints be investigated. Complaints may be filed directly with the OCR or reported to a school’s Title IX office. The grievance process varies by school, but all institutions are required to have both their Title IX policy and the designated Title IX coordinator easily accessible. 

Educational institutes have “a responsibility to protect every student’s right to learn” in a safe and healthy environment. These institutions are prohibited from displaying discrimination by basis of:

  • Race, color, or national origin (Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964)
  • Age (Age Discrimination Act of 1975)
  • Ability or lack thereof (Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990)
  • Sex, including gender identity and sexual orientation (Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972)

Read more about Title IX Final Rule and student’s rights here.

This blog was written by STM Learning’s editorial staff for educational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific medical or legal advice. For expert information on the discussed subjects, please refer to STM Learning’s publications.


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