Five Big Myths About Title IX and Your Education Rights

university classroom

When issues of gender discrimination arise in the school system, discussion of Title IX isn’t far behind. From athletics to classrooms and across other extracurricular departments, Title IX is a pivotal piece of legislature that protects your right to be free from gender discrimination. 

Title IX is part of the 1972 Education Amendment, enforced by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). It 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.” 

Below, we’ll discuss education rights, including what it means to be protected by Title IX. More importantly, we’ll do it through the lens of five common myths about Title IX.

Myth #1: Title IX only applies to athletic programs

The most common myth about Title IX is that it only applies to athletics programs. While gender discrimination within school sports tends to get the most public attention, the regulations of Title IX cover all educational and extracurricular activities and other school programs. This includes:

  • Recruitment, enrollment, and acceptance rates
  • Tuition assistance programs, scholarships, and grants;
  • Access to class enrollment and other academic programs;
  • Academic counseling and tutoring;
  • Hiring and retention of employees;
  • Sexual harassment and sexual misconduct within school related activities;
  • Benefits and leave.

Title IX is intended to create gender parity and eliminate discrimination across all sectors in education. It also extends to employees of educational institutions, not just to students.  It protects students, faculty and staff against sexual harassment, including sexual assault and violence.

Myth #2: Title IX only applies to discrimination against women

A common misconception about Title IX is that men are unable to file discrimination complaints against women or other men. But, in fact, schools are obligated to respond to any and all allegations and complaints about sex and gender discrimination. 

All students have the right to speak up if they’re excluded from programs or activities, or discriminated against within those programs—regardless of the gender of the complainant, alleged offender or both.

In August, for example, a judge found that Harvard University could not withholding eligibility for scholarships and student leadership offices from members of same-gender fraternities and other same-sex student clubs.  Harvard wanted to eliminate the same-sex or single-gender clubs in the name of non-discrimination. It claimed that both single-gender men’s and women’s organizations encouraged misogyny, bigotry, and sexual violence among men.  Harvard claimed that these same-gender organizations did not encourage students to “act like modern men and women.”  

The judge allowed students, men and women, to sue Harvard under Title IX, on allegations that Harvard was targeting same-gender institutions in the name of unfair gender stereotypes—of men.  

Myth #3: Men’s athletic programs are cut so that women can have more opportunities

Some critics of Title IX incorrectly claim regulations have led to a reduction in men’s athletics programs. However, since the adoption of Title IX in 1972, sports opportunities have actually increased for men as well as women. 

The amendment does not require federally funded schools to cut men’s sports programs to increase opportunities for women. Academic institutions determine how they will comply with Title IX regulations on an individual basis. Schools make independent determinations on whether to promote, remove, or decrease sports programs. As long as they comply with Title IX regulations and maintain gender equity, they may adjust their athletics programs for many reasons. 

Myth #4: Title IX includes quotas

Despite popular belief, Title IX does not include quota requirements. It merely makes colleges distribute opportunities for male and female students in a non-discriminatory manner. 

Title IX does require federally funded colleges, high schools, and secondary schools to provide equal opportunities for both men and women (or boys and girls) to participate and engage in school programs, including athletics. There’s no quota—only a drive for equality. 

Myth #5: Title IX requires all programs to be co-ed

The 1972 Education Amendment allows for single-sex educational opportunities, activities and programs in certain categories. This includes athletic teams, fraternities and sororities, religious schools as well as traditional all-men’s or all-women’s colleges. 

Since sports programs can be gender-specific, schools must identify how many athletic opportunities they offer to each sex and ensure the percentage of men and women participants are proportionate. They are also allowed to adjust for actual demand for such programs as well as demonstrate historical progress towards gender equality as a way to show compliance with Title IX.

Enforcement of Title IX

Title IX is meant to protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of sex within educational programs, activities, and other federally funded school opportunities. Academic institutions must respond to all complaints and accusations promptly and adequately, regardless of the gender of the accuser or the accused. 

Furthermore, a student or faculty member may not be retaliated against for submitting a Title IX complaint. 

The U.S. Supreme Court broadened the interpretive scope of Title IX to whistle-blowers from retaliation. The Court’s opinion is that being able to safely report discrimination without punishment is integral to enforcing the educational amendment.

Do you know your education rights?

It’s crucial for students, parents and faculty members to stay informed about the regulations of Title IX. At Allen Law Firm, we focus exclusively on discrimination law—including matters represented under Title IX. We’re a legal authority on accusations of sexual misconduct, student conduct, individual rights, and sports equality.

If you believe you’re being unfairly discriminated against, contact us today for more information or to schedule a consultation. 

We understand your problem. Let’s work together to bring justice to your case.