Know Your Rights: How to File a Title IX Complaint for Students in K-12 Schools

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was designed to eliminate sex discrimination in schools and education programs.

Many people associate Title IX with female athletes, because of the great strides made toward gender equity in athletic opportunities in schools since its passed into law, and with the anti-campus rape movement, because of the great attention made to college activists who have leveraged Title IX to force colleges to more effectively address student allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment.

However, Title IX is a gender-neutral law that seeks to eliminate sex and gender discrimination in many arenas. It also demands equity in career and technical education programs as well as STEM education; limits single-sex education programs that separate boys and girls based on gender stereotypes; protects students from being denied enrollment or excluded from school-based activities due to pregnancy or parenting status; and requires schools to address sexual harassment.

Much progress has been made in addressing sex and gender discrimination in education programs since Title IX passed into law in 1972, but challenges remain, especially in the areas of enforcement and compliance.

The obligations of federally funded schools and rights of students under Title IX should continually be clarified. Instead, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos manufactured confusion about Title IX and sexual misconduct in schools. In September, DeVos announced the Trump Administration would formally rescind guidances addressing sexual assault.

Nonetheless, parents of students still need to know their rights, and how to file a complaint, if appropriate.

Here is a guide for parents and guardians. It explains how to file a complaint with your school district regarding sexual harassment, sexual violence, sex discrimination, and other violations of state and federal civil rights laws regarding gender discrimination.

The Women’s Law Project is a public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

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The Women's Law Project creates a more just and equitable society by advancing the rights and status of all women throughout their lives. To this end, we engage in high-impact litigation, advocacy, and education.
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