Title IX, the landmark U.S. law that aimed to ensure gender equity in education, turns 50 on June 23. The law states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, denied benefits, or discriminated against in connection with any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
Title IX covers elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions that receive federal funding—in other words, most K-12 schools, colleges, and universities—as well as vocational schools, libraries and museums.
The law applies to myriad facets of education: athletics, the classroom, sexual assault and violence on campus, financial aid for tuition, employment, and retaliation. . It also extends 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.
That means there’s no shortage of stories your newsroom can do for the anniversary. Here’s a guide to help you locate your coverage, which could work alongside AP’s Title IX content scheduled through June 23. Find the entire package on the Title IX hub on AP Newsroom.
To find out if there are current federal Title IX investigations into schools in your state or area, click on “sex discrimination” on this Civil Rights Office website: https://www2.ed .gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/ investigations/open-investigations/tix.html?perPage=1000.
There, you’ll be able to sort by state and type of discrimination under Title IX, which ranges from athletics to sexual violence to single-sex campus programs. In order to obtain details of the investigation, beyond the date it was opened, you must submit a Freedom of Information Act request at https://foiaxpress.pal.ed.gov/app/Home .aspx. Please note that FOIA requests can take weeks or months to be returned.
TITLE IX COORDINATORS
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.
You should be able to search a school or district’s website to find the coordinator’s name, or you can call to find this information. The coordinator can help you better understand how schools find and fix Title IX violations themselves, handle federal investigations, and make changes to continue to comply with the law as it evolves.
More information on the duties of Title IX coordinators can be found here: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/rights/guid/ocr/title-ix-coordinators.html
You can also find Title IX compliance experts through the Association of Title IX Administrators: https://www.atixa.org/
Important Note: Identifying a Title IX violation in athletics is not as simple as looking at a women’s sport budget and comparing it to the same/equivalent men’s sport. Athletic departments work under what is called “equal effect”, which means that an advantage for one gender in something like uniforms/equipment can be offset by a different advantage, like transportation, as long as “the overall effects of any difference are negligible. “This area may end up being challenged in court.
– Each college must provide annual Athletics Equity Data Analysis Reports that track athletics participation, coaching staff and salaries, revenues and expenses (including recruiting expenses and on match days) and additional information. To find data for your local college, go to ope.ed.gov/athletics/#/, where you can also compare data from multiple schools and get trending data.
— For more detailed data at public universities, such as detailed budget and expenditure breakdowns, you will likely need to file a public records request.
Resources/people to talk to:
– Nationally, Nancy Hogshead-Makar with Champion Women is a Title IX expert and involved in many Title IX sports pursuits. It maintains a database of information about the EADA – which can help determine whether a school provides equal participation opportunities for men and women – as well as legal letters that have been sent on possible violations of the title IX to the conferences. This database is available at titleixschools.com/2022/01/23/eada-data. (Note: Hogshead-Makar has written and tweeted about transgender athletes in recent months, including an op-ed for Swimming World that says “there’s nothing fair” about transgender athlete Lia Thomas competing in the NCAA swimming.)
— Regionally, if you know a lawsuit has been filed against a university, contact the attorney listed for plaintiffs or the plaintiffs themselves.
– Women who coach at all levels, but especially at the college level, have probably played sports themselves, often at a time when Title IX did not exist or was not as well enforced. Their views on what has changed and how they are trying to keep their schools compliant would be valuable.
Questions to ask:
– 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. This is a place to search for potential violations and stories about violations. USA Today recently wrote about the participation gap in depth.
— Was there an unequal amount paid to the coaches of the men’s teams compared to the women’s teams? Is there an unbalanced coaching staff between the men’s and women’s teams? Is the amount spent on recruitment excessive?
– Ask athletes about meals, housing, access to mental health, equipment, facilities and travel and how this compares to other teams in the athletics department or high school.
– Interview the Title IX Coordinator at your local school or college about the latest challenges they are facing or progress they have seen.
– At the high school level or below, talk to coaches about whether they are briefed on Title IX rules and regulations before taking charge of a team, and whether they are encouraged to report any violations.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND DISCRIMINATION
Title IX protections extend to sexual harassment and discrimination on campus, and the definition of sexual harassment includes dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. Discrimination involves everything from students discriminating against other students, as well as students/staff or staff/staff, and also covers discrimination against pregnant women.
— This Department of Education website explains what is defined as sexual harassment on campus and what students are entitled to: https://sites.ed.gov/titleix/policy/
— For federal training materials on sexual harassment and sexual violence: https://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/safe-place-to-learn-k12
– For more details on sex discrimination under Title IX: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/rights/guid/ocr/sexoverview.html or https://www.venturacollege.edu/college-information /about-ventura -college/title-ix/definitions
— Government information regarding LGBTQ student rights under Title IX: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/lgbt.html
Questions to ask schools and universities:
— Who is trained to identify and report sexual harassment? Who is not but should be/will be? What steps are taken in the event of a report of sexual harassment?
— What does the mediation process look like for complaints of sexual harassment and assault?
— Have any settled complaints regarding LBGTQ discrimination? Was it a one-time situation or is it a recurring problem at school?
– Poynter offers a free, self-directed online course for journalists on Title IX that details the process at universities and also offers suggestions on how to report Title IX violations. https://www.poynter.org/shop/ethics/understanding-title-ix/
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