Alcohol, Drugs, and High School Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 requires high schools that receive federal funding to prohibit sex discrimination, including sexual assault, dating violence, stalking, and sexual harassment. Title IX does not expressly address or prohibit drug and alcohol use in high schools. High schools routinely maintain their own policies prohibiting alcohol and illegal drug use. Students possessing or using alcohol or illegal drugs on high school grounds or in education programs and activities may face high school student conduct code charges. But those students may also face high school Title IX charges if the alcohol or drug use contributed in some way to sexual misconduct prohibited under Title IX. In short, alcohol or drug use can contribute to Title IX charges. High school students and their concerned parents should beware of student alcohol or drug use and abuse, not just because of its health and safety hazards but also because of its regulatory Title IX risks.

The Role of Alcohol and Drugs in Sexual Misconduct

High school student use and abuse of alcohol and drugs contributes to sexual misconduct and Title IX charges in several ways. First, alcohol or drug use and abuse can cause or contribute to the violent, emotional, uncharacteristic, or otherwise inappropriate sexual conduct of the accused student. Alcohol and drugs can impair student judgment. They can also contribute to behavioral dyscontrol, impair cognition, exaggerated emotion, anger, irrationality, and socially inappropriate behavior. Certain drugs also specifically promote risk-taking behavior and sexual behavior. A student who, when sober, would never have sexually propositioned, touched, assaulted, or otherwise offended another student might, when drunk or drugged, commit any or all of those potential Title IX violations. Drug or alcohol use isn't technically an element of a Title IX violation, as drug or alcohol use is an element of a crime like drunk driving. But drugs and alcohol can certainly contribute to Title IX violations. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that nearly 700,000 students annually suffer sexual assaults by another student who had been drinking.

Another way in which drugs and alcohol contribute to Title IX violations is by incapacitating the student victims. The frightening and horrible use of date-rape drugs is by now well known. Colorless, odorless, and tasteless drugs exist that, when introduced into a liquid that the victim consumes, can promptly incapacitate the victim, subjecting the victim to rape or other sexual violation. And date rape doesn't require a special drug. Plying the victim with alcohol, or alcohol mixed with drugs, may be the perpetrator's approach. Date rape is such a prominent phenomenon on school campuses that Title IX expressly prohibits not just sexual assault and sexual harassment but also dating violence. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that at least twenty-three states have adopted legislation requiring, allowing, or encouraging schools to implement educational programs on preventing, avoiding, and addressing dating violence.

Alcohol and drugs can also contribute to Title IX violations simply by the victim voluntarily and knowingly using alcohol or drugs. Consensual sexual contact facilitated by voluntary drinking may not in itself comprise a Title IX violation, depending on the circumstances. But after students engage in voluntary drunken or drugged sexual misbehavior, students may use that past behavior to proposition, embarrass, oppress, and offend those students who, now sober, reasonably regard the conduct as offensive. If that sexual conduct becomes severe and pervasive, creating a sexually hostile environment interfering with a high school program or activity, perpetrating students may face Title IX charges. Drugs and alcohol contribute to Title IX misconduct in various ways. Drugs and alcohol can definitely play an unfortunate but prominent Title IX role. The drug rehab organization reports that about half of college student sexual assaults involve alcohol use. High school statistics may not be markedly different.

Substances of Choice in High School

High school students have considerable access to a wide range of intoxicating and impairing substances. The American Addiction Centers report that although alcohol consumption is illegal for minors, alcohol is the most-popular intoxicant in high school. Over two-thirds of high school students have tried alcohol by the time of their graduation. Minors between ages twelve and twenty consume one-tenth of the nation's alcohol production. And when minors consume alcohol, they tend not to stop at just a little. Ninety percent of alcohol consumption among high schoolers involves binge drinking. One-fifth of high school seniors have been binge drinking in the past month.

Marijuana use is also prevalent among high school students, the same source reports. Around half of high school students have tried marijuana. More than one-third of high school seniors have used marijuana in the past year and more than one-fifth of seniors in the past thirty days. About one out of six tenth graders have smoked marijuana in the past thirty days. A significant percentage of seniors smoke marijuana daily. Opioid abuse, like Oxycontin and Vicodin, also occurs among high school students. Another treatment center indicates that nearly one-quarter of high school students abuse drugs, sometimes in combination with alcohol. High school students also abuse amphetamines, hallucinogens, Ecstasy, cocaine, LSD, inhalants, and cough medicines. Drugs and alcohol are available to high school students, making them significant contributors to Title IX violations.

Responding to Substance-Abuse-Related Title IX Charges

Any Title IX charge should concern the accused student's parents. No parent wants the parent's student to suffer Title IX discipline, especially expulsion or other serious discipline based on false, unfair, or exaggerated charges. Title IX charges often warrant an aggressive defense to preserve your student's reputation, ambition, education, career, and future. Don't let your student admit to Title IX misconduct that your student did not commit, even if the school suggests that accepting responsibility will facilitate the proceeding. Instead, retain a skilled and experienced Title IX defense attorney to evaluate, investigate, and contest the charges. Be sure that your student gets the best possible outcome that preserves your student's clean record and future prospects.

Yet parents whose high school student faces Title IX charges relating to substance abuse have special concerns. If, in fact, your student has abused drugs or alcohol, the Title IX charges are likely only one of two significant concerns. Your student needs to successfully navigate the Title IX charges. But your student may just as much need to learn to avoid alcohol and drug abuse. Your student may also need to recover from alcohol or drug addictions. You may not immediately know whether your student used or abused alcohol or drugs or has a drug or alcohol addiction. High school students are not always immediately truthful about habits and practices of which their parents would not approve. So, your main concern, even while helping your student navigate the Title IX proceeding by retaining an expert Title IX defense attorney, may be to determine the extent of your student's drug or alcohol abuse and addiction to get appropriate counseling and treatment.

Resolving Title IX Charges Relating to Substance Abuse

The high school student who faces Title IX charges relating to substance abuse faces a significant challenge. Yet, in an odd way, when substance abuse contributes to a Title IX sexual misconduct charge, the case can present positive opportunities for special relief from the charges. When a high school student sexually assaults or harasses another student, while both students are sober, the perpetrator student may have serious behavioral issues contributing to the wrong. But when instead alcohol or drugs cause or contribute to a high school student's Title IX sexual misconduct, school officials may recognize that the alcohol or drug addiction is the culprit more so than the student's behavioral problems.

In short, high school officials may more readily embrace counseling and treatment alternatives when drugs or alcohol contributed to Title IX violations over the traditional options of student suspension or expulsion. That approach is not naive or foolhardy. It is instead humane and rehabilitative, as one would expect a high school teacher or administrator to behave. But getting the high school disciplinary officials to recognize the value and appropriateness of alternative treatment and counseling approaches can take special Title IX defense attorney skills. Your student's retained Title IX defense attorney must first establish a relationship of respect, confidence, cooperation, and trust with the high school's disciplinary officials. Only then may the officials seriously entertain treatment and counseling options and proposals.

National Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has represented so many students in these kinds of cases involving substance abuse and other special issues that he has a network of consulting experts to help advocate for positive, rehabilitative, and humane resolutions. Attorney Lento also has a national reputation for winning student relief that produces positive outcomes for both the student and the school. High school Title IX cases involving student substance abuse require special sensitivity, knowledge, skills, and a special strategic approach to positive resolution. Attorney Lento has devoted his career and law practice to developing and offering those special Title IX defense attorney skills.

Premier Title IX Defense Attorney Available

If your student faces a high school Title IX proceeding relating to substance use or abuse, then your student needs an especially skilled and experienced Title IX defense attorney. Your student may have exonerating or mitigating evidence. Your student may also have special treatment or counseling needs. National Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento helps high school students nationwide defend and defeat Title IX charges. Attorney Lento has the special skills, sensitivity, and experience to advocate and negotiate for special treatment and relief in cases involving substance use and abuse. Attorney Lento and his expert team at the Lento Law Firm are available for Title IX defense at any high school nationwide. Retain an expert Title IX defense attorney to protect your student's health, welfare, and future. Call 888.535.3686 or contact Attorney Lento online now.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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