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EXPLAINER: What is Title IX and what impact has it had?

Title IX, the law best known for its role in gender equity in athletics and preventing sexual harassment on campus, turns 50.

It was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on June 23, 1972, after being guided by Congress in part by Representative Patsy Mink, a Democrat from Hawaii who was the first woman of color elected to the United States House. .

The law prohibits gender-based discrimination in education and, despite its age, remains a vital part of the ongoing fight for equality, including in the LGBTQ community.


The statue itself is a sentence long.

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of gender, be excluded from participation, denied benefits, or discriminated against in connection with any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

Translation: The law aims to ensure gender equity in education, and it is broad, covering most K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, as well as vocational schools, libraries and museums. This means that it applies to tens of millions of students, as well as educators.


The law applies to several areas of education: athletics, the classroom, sexual assault and violence on campus, employment, discrimination, admissions, retaliation, and even student financial assistance. tuition.

It has also been extended to other forms of discrimination based on gender and sex; Title IX was invoked when the Obama administration advised that transgender people be allowed to use any bathroom of their choice in schools.


In many ways, and at the powerful K-12 and college levels. Women’s and men’s teams should be treated equally under the law, and schools should seek to expand opportunities for women to play sports.

This does not necessarily mean that each sport will have exactly the same budget for equipment, facilities, travel or meals. For example, the women’s tennis team might have more money invested in racquets than the men’s tennis team. Athletic departments work under what is known as “equal effect”, which means that an advantage for a men’s or women’s team in one area can be offset in another area as long as “the overall effects of any difference are negligible”.

In hopes of ensuring Title IX compliance, each college or university athletic department must provide annual athletic equity data analysis reports. These track attendance, coaching staff and salaries, income and expenses, including recruitment expenses and matchdays.

Many Title IX athletic disputes deal with what is known as the participation gap. Athletics departments must ensure that the ratio of men’s athletic participation opportunities to women’s athletic participation opportunities is “substantially proportional” to a school’s undergraduate enrollment.

For example, the University of Connecticut settled a lawsuit after its women’s rowing team won a temporary restraining order against its closure. UConn has been accused of putting inflated numbers on the list of women in rowing (about 20 more than would compete) in its equity report, meaning the actual participation gap was “well above a viable team size”.


Title IX protections extend to sexual harassment on campus, including dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.

The bottom line is that all students are expected to have a learning environment free from sexual harassment. When violations occur, the law aims to help students resolve the issue, which may mean moving to a different dorm, for example, or having a suspected abuser removed from school altogether.

Under new Title IX regulations that were finalized in 2020, students who come forward with allegations of abuse can now face an in-person hearing and cross-examination by a person chosen by the alleged abuser. Those rules have been criticized by Democrats and others for not fully protecting victims and for discouraging complaints, and the Biden administration is expected to propose new regulations soon.

The Associated Press has reported that some universities have seen a decrease in the number of complaints filed with Title IX offices.


Under Title IX, there is a broad definition of discrimination that could involve students, faculty, administrators, or staff. It also covers discrimination against pregnant women. The law has also been invoked to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ students and educators.

Nothing in Title IX or its federal regulations explicitly protects LGBTQ people, but the Biden administration said last year that the law should be interpreted to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. . It was based on a 2020 Supreme Court ruling that LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination in employment.

As a result, the Department of Education said it could launch a civil rights investigation if students couldn’t use the restroom or join sports teams that matched their gender identity.

Tennessee and several other Republican-run states have filed a federal lawsuit challenging this guidance; it has not yet been decided.

The Biden administration has signaled that its upcoming settlement will explicitly expand Title IX to protect LGBTQ students from discrimination. If finalized as a federal regulation, it would have the force of law.


Every school and college is supposed to have at least one Title IX coordinator, whose job it is to ensure that the institution is in compliance with all Title IX arms. Sometimes the officer is simply the principal of the school, while many universities have entire offices dedicated to Title IX compliance.


There are two types: local and federal.

Local complaints are handled by the school’s Title IX coordinator or office, which has procedures in place to handle cases of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. Schools can dispense discipline for these grievances.

Federal complaints are directed to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. These investigations can take months or years. The list of current federal investigations under Title IX can be viewed on the OCR website.

Those who believe their rights have been violated can also take their case to federal courts through Title IX lawsuits.


For more on the impact of Title IX, read AP’s full report:

Video timeline:


The Associated Press education team receives support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for all content.