Sexual Discrimination, Harassment, and Violence

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities operated by recipients of Federal financial assistance.

Discrimination on the basis of sex relates to a broad category of activities that prevent or limit an individual from participating in or benefiting from an education program or activity. The following list gives a more in-depth, though not exhaustive, look at the types of behavior which are prohibited:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Gender-based discrimination/harassment (includes gender identity, transgender status, non-conformity with sex-stereotypes)
  • Sex-based discrimination/harassment (includes discrimination/harassment based on sex-stereotyping, often includes behavior which constitutes sexual orientation discrimination/harassment)
  • Sexual violence
  • Relationship violence

Sexual harassment is conduct that:

  1. is sexual in nature;
  2. is unwelcome; and
  3. denies or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from a school’s education program.

Sexual harassment can take different forms depending on the harasser and the nature of the harassment. The conduct can be carried out by school employees, other students, and non-employee third parties, such as a visiting speaker. Both male and female students can be victims of sexual harassment, and the harasser and the victim can be of the same sex.

The conduct can occur in any school program or activity and can take place in school facilities, on a school bus, or at other off-campus locations, such as a school-sponsored field trip or a training program at another location. The conduct can be verbal, nonverbal, or physical.

The judgment and common sense of teachers and school administrators are very important elements in determining whether sexual harassment has occurred and in determining an appropriate response, especially when dealing with young children.

Examples of sexual conduct include:

  • making sexual propositions or pressuring another for sexual favors;
  • touching of a sexual nature;
  • displaying or distributing sexually explicit drawings, pictures, or written materials;
  • performing sexual gestures or touching oneself sexually in front of others;
  • telling sexual or dirty jokes;
  • spreading sexual rumors or rating other students as to sexual activity or performance;
  • circulating or showing e-mails or Web sites of a sexual nature.

Examples of sex and gender based discrimination in the treatment of students include, but are not limited to:

  • Sexual harassment by an instructor
  • A male who is bullied for being “too feminine”
  • Catcalls and comments when a student walks across the studio
  • Adverse treatment of pregnant students
  • Discouraging women from pursuing certain professions or degrees
  • Inadequate facilities for a particular sex
  • Belittling comments by a professor about men

Examples of sexual violence include, but are not limited to:

  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual battery
  • Sexual coercion

Examples of relationship violence include, but are not limited to:

  • Intimate partner violence
  • Domestic abuse
  • Stalking
  • Dating violence

Source: U.S. Department of education website,

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