In 1972, the U.S. Department of Education implemented Title IX. This measure contained a host of requirements that must be followed to remain eligible for critical education funding. Title IX prohibits forms of discrimination based on one's sex. This applies to all those associated with the institution regardless of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
The purpose is to ensure that no individuals will face exclusion, be denied benefits or otherwise be discriminated against in educational settings and activities. Institutions were required to design procedures to assess, investigate, and resolve allegations of sexually-based discrimination. Enforcement at the federal level is the responsibility of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
Prohibited Acts Under Title IX
The OCR explains the types of activity prohibited, many of which are based on a precedent established by Title VII. Schools have a responsibility to respond when actions inhibit someone's access, participation or when a hostile environment is created.
- Acts of sexually-based violence
- Forms of sexual misconduct or harassment
- Acts may be verbal or nonverbal
- These acts may involve “physical aggression, intimidation or hostility”
Title IX and the LGBTQ Community
In recent years, the OCR has also formally recognized that schools should investigate "discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity." These and other statements are largely in recognition of a large number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ) students on campuses today. An estimated 10% of undergraduates identify as part of this community.
When an LGBTQ student is alleged to have committed an act of discrimination or sexual misconduct, they are encouraged to consult with legal representation. Overworked administrators in these institutions often move hastily in these matters without properly considering the rights of the accused.
Responsibilities of the Institution
Schools will designate an administrator(s) that are responsible for Title IX compliance. When a complaint is received, there is a requirement to conduct an “equitable” investigation. Those responsible must be free of biases or any conflict of interest. The interests of the institution should not result in any impartiality.
The process may involve gathering evidence, such as from documentation or witnesses. These matters are not intended to mimic judicial procedures that apply in court. All parties involved will always be notified in writing regarding alleged violations, evidence, potential penalties that may be imposed, etc. The evidentiary standard used is by the preponderance of the evidence or a clear and convincing evidence standard. This is a lower burden of proof compared to beyond a reasonable doubt that applies in criminal actions.
What is an Advisor's Role?
Any options made available to one party are generally also available to others. One example is the right to have an advisor of your choice that may assist in a supportive role. Schools typically restrict the ability of the advisor to have an active role, such as the ability to directly address those in a hearing, but an experienced professional will be as much of an advocate for the accused student during the investigation, hearing as applicable, and appeal if necessary.
Findings and Potential Sanctions
OCR recommendations state that all parties should be notified of findings at the same time. Severe disciplinary sanctions may be imposed that could include suspension or expulsion. Any possible sanctions must be clearly stated in the institution's written provisions.
Experienced Advisor for Students in Title IX Disciplinary Actions in Alaska
Students facing allegations of Title IX violations in Alaska are encouraged to seek assistance from an experienced advisor. Joseph D. Lento provides valuable assistance to clients in these proceedings. We encourage you to contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.
Alaska colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your gay or lesbian student's Title IX advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- Alaska Bible College
- Alaska Pacific University
- Charter College Anchorage
- Ilisagvik College
- Prince William Sound Community College
- University of Alaska Anchorage
- University of Alaska Fairbanks
- University of Alaska Southeast
- Wayland Baptist University
Approximately 10% of college students in the United States identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, or questioning according to studies and LGBTQ+ students should not feel alone when accused of sexual misconduct. As importantly, they should they not face such burdens alone or without the necessary support and guidance.
The reason LGBTQ+ students should not go through the Title IX process alone is because, as with all students accused of sexual misconduct, Title IX allegations and charges can change an accused student's life if not defended against properly and as early as possible during the disciplinary process. It is critical to have a dedicated and experienced advocate when facing a challenge in life and Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience passionately fighting for the future of LGBTQ+ students at universities and colleges throughout the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead, prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph Lento is a licensed attorney in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York and serves as a Title IX advisor to students facing Title IX and disciplinary cases in Alaska and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today at 888-535-3686.