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Gender Discrimination in Education

Gender discrimination happens when someone treats a person unequally based on gender. This discrimination may or may not relate to someone's sexual orientation.

Sex discrimination occurs when someone treats a person unequally due to their sex. The term "sex" means the biological factor of being female or male.

People often use these terms interchangeably. For anti-discrimination and civil rights law purposes, the words are comparable.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Basics

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency. The agency enforces various anti-discrimination laws.

It has determined that discrimination based on sex includes gender discrimination. That includes sexual orientation discrimination.

Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Basics

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education enforces Title IX violations. That office is relevant to the topic of gender discrimination. Gender discrimination in an education system under Title IX includes traditional sex-based discrimination. It also includes sexual harassment and sexual assault violations.

Gender Discrimination in Education and Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) is a federal law that states:

"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Title IX applies to all educational institutions that get federal funds. That includes public schools and private institutions.

Almost all private colleges and universities must follow Title IX regulations. This is because they get federal funding. That funding comes through federal financial aid programs used by their students.

Title IX applies to every aspect of education, including:

  • Financial aid
  • Course offerings
  • Counseling and counseling materials
  • Student health insurance benefits
  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Physical Education
  • Athletics

To meet Title IX's participation rule, an institution must:

  1. Provide participation opportunities for male and female students that are substantially proportional to their rates of enrollment of full-time students
  2. Show a history and practice of program expansion for the underrepresented sex
  3. Fully and effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex

Athletic Equity in Education

Title IX applies to every aspect of education. Yet, a lot of publicity centers on athletic programs.

Title IX has been influential in creating more opportunities for women in sports. This is true for competitive athletics and informal recreation.

There are three components of Title IX applicable to athletics. The first two are:

  1. Participation: Women and men must have equal opportunities to take part in sports. Identical sports programs for women and men aren't required.
  2. Scholarships: Female and male student-athletes get athletic scholarship dollars proportional to participation.

The third component is other benefits. Title IX requires equal treatment of female and male student-athletes when providing:

  • Equipment and supplies
  • Scheduling of games and practice times
  • Travel and daily allowance/per diem
  • Access to tutoring
  • Coaching
  • Locker rooms
  • Practice and competitive facilities
  • Medical training and training facilities and services
  • Housing and dining facilities and services
  • Publicity and promotions
  • Support services
  • Recruitment of student-athletes

Gender Discrimination in Education: Sexual Harassment

Under Title IX, gender discrimination can include sexual harassment. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an institution may be held legally responsible for sexual harassment. This happens when the institution has noticed but ignores sexual harassment. The institution may have to pay monetary damages to the victim. This also happens if the institution acts with "deliberate indifference to known acts of harassment in its programs or activities." The harassment can happen at school or off-campus. The harasser can be a teacher, school employee, or another student.

The law cares about a hostile environment that interferes with the student's opportunities. That doesn't include mere incidents of occasional bullying.

Bullying, including cyberbullying, is a serious issue. If it rises to the level of creating a hostile environment, it is a Title IX violation. Many states have nondiscrimination laws that offer extra protection.

Sexual Assault and Rape in Education

Under Title IX, discrimination based on sex can include sexual assault and rape. A school must address sexual violence incidents. That's true regardless of whether there is police involvement.

To meet Title IX rules, a school must do the following:

  • Name a Title IX coordinator who has the power to adjudicate Title IX assault claims
  • Train the coordinator, staff, and students about relevant topics. These topics include consent, healthy relationships, counseling, medical help, and other services.
  • Implement complaint procedures. Schools must inform their population about how and where to file complaints. They must make that information accessible and the same for everyone.

Protections for Transgender Students

Title IX protects transgender students from discrimination. Transgender students have the right to equal access to educational opportunities.

Consult an Attorney about your Gender Discrimination Claim

Gender discrimination in education is unfair and illegal. Achieving gender equality is an ongoing challenge. There are laws prohibiting these inequalities.

Has a hostile environment limited your ability to take part in a high school activity or program? As a secondary school student, is your school district treating you differently due to gender identity? If so, you might have a gender discrimination claim.

Learn more about your rights. There may be state laws that protect your human rights. You may also have more rights under laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

That law protects you against discrimination based on race, national origin, color, religion, and sex. Talk to an attorney specializing in discrimination law.

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