AAUW Issues: Title IX

The American Association of University Women strongly supports the vigorous enforcement of Title IX and all other civil rights laws pertaining to education.

Additional Resources

Download Printable Quick Facts on Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was the first comprehensive federal law to prohibit sex discrimination in education. It covers women and men, girls and boys, and staff and students in any educational institution or program that receives federal funds. This includes local school districts, colleges and universities, for-profit schools, career and technical education agencies, libraries, and museums. Music classes or choirs, sex education classes, and sports involving bodily contact are exempt from Title IX, as are religious institutions if the law would violate their religious tenets. Admissions policies at private undergraduate institutions are also exempt.

More than Athletics

Title IX requires recipients of federal education funding to evaluate their current policies and practices, adopt and publish a policy against sex discrimination, and implement grievance procedures providing for prompt and equitable resolution of student and employee discrimination complaints. All schools must publicly appoint at least one employee to coordinate Title IX compliance.

Title IX affects all areas of education, including:

  • recruitment, admissions and housing;
  • career and technical education;
  • pregnant, parenting, and/or married students;
  • science, technology, engineering, and math education;
  • sexual harassment and assault;
  • comparable facilities and access to course offerings;
  • financial assistance;
  • student health services and insurance benefits;
  • harassment based on gender identity; and
  • athletics.

Attacks on Title IX

Since the passage of this landmark civil rights law, some opponents have sought to weaken it, with most opposition centering on the athletics requirements.

There has been talk of a so-called “boys’ crisis,” a narrative where expanded educational opportunities for girls have come at the expense of boys. AAUW’s 2008 report Where the Girls Are found no evidence of a boys’ crisis, but reaffirmed the existence of large disparities in educational achievement by race/ethnicity and family income. A crisis exists, but it is a crisis for African-American, Hispanic, and lower-income students – both girls and boys.

In 2006, OCR eased limits on single-sex education in public schools, removing many protections AAUW believes single-sex education without proper attention to civil rights can reinforce gender stereotypes, increase discrimination, and restrict the educational opportunities open to both girls and boys.

Sexual Harassment and Bullying

Sexual harassment creates an inequitable learning environment and is a violation of Title IX. Bullying also can be a violation, but not always. If a school fails to recognize and address discriminatory harassment based on sex or gender identity, it can be held responsible for violating students’ civil rights. Title IX prohibits gender-based harassment, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

Title IX’s Work is Not Done

  • Sexual harassment pervades the lives of students. Nearly half of students in grades 7-12 experienced harassment in the 2010–11 school year (56 percent of girls and 40 percent of boys). Of that number, 87 percent said it had a negative effect on them.
  • Sex segregation persists in career and technical education, with women making up about 90 percent of the students enrolled in courses leading to traditionally female occupations such as cosmetology, child care, and health services.
  • Only 39 percent of all full-time professors at colleges and universities are women.
  • Women’s teams receive only 33 percent of recruiting dollars and 36 percent of athletic operating dollars.
  • Women receive only 17 percent of computer science and 18 percent of engineering-related technology bachelor’s degrees.
  • Pregnant and parenting students are often steered toward separate and less rigorous schools.

Enforcement

Title IX regulations are enforced by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education. The law prohibits retaliation for filing a Title IX complaint or advocating for those making a complaint. AAUW believes OCR must receive adequate funding to strengthen its Title IX enforcement efforts, and advocates thorough investigation of complaints and proactive compliance review.