Blog  What You Need to Know About Title IX, and How You Can Help Protect It

What You Need to Know About Title IX, and How You Can Help Protect It

By: Zoe Terner, NFTY Social Action Vice President (SAVP)

Every day, we are protected by rules and guidelines that we may not even know exist. For many of us in high school and college, Title IX, an act that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in public education, affects our daily lives. Protections like these allow us to live freely and up to our fullest potential, without worrying about sex-based violence and discrimination in the places that are supposed to be our safe havens.

There have recently been some threats to Title IX. As citizens who will be personally impacted by any changes, here’s what you need to know:

  • US. Department of Education published a proposed rule that, if implemented, will dramatically scale back schools’ responsibilities to address sexual harassment and assault. This proposal will change how schools interpret Title IX, a section of the 1972 Education Amendments to the Civil Rights Act that prohibits sex-based discrimination in public education.
  • The rule redefines what constitutes sexual harassment under Title IX, limiting reporting tosevere, pervasive, and objectively offensive” harassment that denies access to an equal education, as opposed to the current definition, “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.”
  • Schools will be required to ignore and dismiss Title IX complaints that occur outside of a schools’ program or activity, including most off-campus violence and online harassment. If it happens in a bar, frat house, or online, schools are not obligated to investigate or act.
  • Survivors will be required to be cross-examined by the alleged assailant’s advisor of choice.
  • Schools will be allowed to pressure survivors into mediation in lieu of a formal investigation.

This can all feel enormous and unmovable, but the truth is that there are lots of things that you can do to make your voice heard:

  • The Department of Education (ED) is accepting comments from the public on this proposal until January 28, 2019. Each comment needs to be unique—please use your personal values and experiences (if you feel comfortable) to customize your comment on why ED should rescind these rules. You can use these postcards to send in your comments! (This can be especially effective when everyone fills them out together at an event!)
  • If you want to learn more about Title IX, the changes, and how to get involved, join the RAC for a webinar on Thursday, 1/10 at 7-8 PM EST.

Don’t let adults be the only voices in a conversation about teens; don’t let people long out of public education decide what your lives and protections should be like. Raise your voices, ask questions, and take a stand.