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Title IX 101

What is Title IX?

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and violence, in educational programs and activities. All public and private schools, school districts, colleges and universities receiving federal funds must comply with Title IX.

Here are some things you should know about your Title IX rights:

  • You have the right to report the incident to your school, have your school investigate what happened, and have your complaint resolved promptly and equitably.
  • You have the right to choose to report an incident of sexual violence to campus or local law enforcement, but a criminal investigation does not relieve your school of its duty under Title IX to respond promptly and effectively.
  • Your school must adopt and publish procedures for resolving complaints of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and violence. Your school may use student disciplinary procedures, but any procedures for sexual violence complaints must afford you a prompt and equitable resolution.
  • Your school should ensure that you are aware of your Title IX rights and any available resources, such as advocacy, housing assistance, academic support, counseling, disability services, and health and mental health services.
  • Your school must designate a Title IX Coordinator and make sure all students and employees know how to contact him or her. The Title IX Coordinator should also be available to meet with you.
  • All students are protected by Title IX, regardless of whether they have a disability, are international or undocumented, and regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Your school provide supportive measures, whether or not you choose to file a complaint, and even before it completes any investigation. Your school should start doing this promptly once the incident is reported.
  • Once you tell your school about an incident of sexual harassment or violence, you have the right to receive some immediate help, such as changing classes, residence halls, or transportation. 
  • You have the right to report any retaliation by school employees, the alleged perpetrator, and other students, and your school should take strong responsive action if it occurs.
  • Your school should clearly identify where you can go to talk to someone confidentially and who can provide services like advocacy, counseling, or academic support. Some people, such as counselors or victim advocates, can talk to you in confidence without triggering a school's investigation.
  • Because different employees have different reporting obligations when they find out about sexual harassment and violence involving students, your school should clearly explain the reporting obligations of all school employees.
  • Even if you do not specifically ask for confidentiality, your school should only disclose information to individuals who are responsible for handling the school's response. Your school should consult with you about how to best protect your safety and privacy.
  • You have the right to be notified of the time frames for all major stages of the investigation.
  • You have the right to present witnesses and evidence.
  • You have the right to have an advocate or support person with you throughout the investigation process. That person can be an attorney, or whoever you feel most comfortable with.
  • Your school must resolve your complaint based on a standard of evidence. Virginia Tech uses a preponderance of the evidence standard (or what is more likely than not to have occurred based on the evidence).
  • You have the right to be notified in writing of the outcome of your complaint and any appeal, including any sanctions that directly relate to you.
  • You have the right to appeal the outcome of the adjudicaiton process.  Appeals are equally available for both parties.
  • You have the right to have any proceedings documented, which may include written findings of fact, transcripts, or audio recordings.
  • If an investigation reveals that sexual violence created a hostile environment, your school must take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the sexual violence, eliminate the hostile environment, prevent its recurrence, and, as appropriate, remedy its effects.
  • Appropriate remedies will generally include disciplinary action against the perpetrator, but may also include remedies to help you get your education back on track (like academic support, retaking a class without penalty, and counseling). These remedies are in addition to any interim measures you received.
  • Your school may also have to provide remedies for the broader student population (such as training) or change its services or policies to prevent such incidents from repeating.

If you want to learn more about your rights, or if you believe that your school is violating federal law, you may contact the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, at 800-421-3481 or on their website. You can also fill out an online complaint form.