Mississippi is now home to 41 colleges and universities statewide. The U.S. Department of Education has long been committed to preventing all forms of discrimination at all levels. In 1972, they implemented Title IX, an amendment that specifically addressed sexual discrimination in educational settings.
Ongoing guidance and enforcement efforts are the responsibility of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). All educational institutions that seek to remain eligible for federal funding to educations are required to comply with Title IX provisions. Each institution must name a Title IX Coordinator that creates policies and procedures for responding to allegations such as those as follows:
- Acts that deny participation or discourage entry into educational programs, eligibility for aid or benefits or athletic opportunities based on gender or sexual identity
- Forms of harassment including slurs or stereotypes that create a hostile education environment for those of any sex or sexual orientation
- Acts of sexual violence that are perpetrated against a victim that is either unwilling or unable to grant consent. These may include rape or sexual coercion.
Investigation of Allegations
Any complaints related to Title IX must be responded to promptly and fairly. The administration is advised to prevent any potential conflicts of interest. The investigative process may involve gathering witness testimony and reviewing evidence. The accused will be notified of the allegations and afforded sufficient time to respond. Students are typically permitted to have an individual serve as an advisor for support and assistance.
Allegations Against LGBTQ Students
LGBTQ students that are the subject of such allegations may feel isolated and vulnerable. There may be fears that investigators may make assumptions of guilt based on false characterizations and lingering stereotypes. In these instances, students are encouraged to consult with an attorney that is familiar with these matters.
Basis of Title IX Complaints Relating to LGBTQ Students (2010 to 2018)
Allegations of sexual harassment
Related to exclusion, benefit denial or differential treatment
Harassment related to gender (non-sexual)
Acts of retaliation
Other discipline-related acts
Potential Hearings and Burden of Proof
Each school will create guidelines that are unique to some extent. Many employ a model where all the parties are summoned to a hearing. These hearings are not intended to mimic judicial proceedings. Some institutions encourage parties to engage in forms of mediation in efforts to reach a mutually acceptable resolution.
The party responsible for rendering a decision may be the Title IX Coordinator, other institutional leaders or sometimes panels of individuals. The allegations must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, which is used in civil matters. Recent federal guidelines have been revised to allow schools the option of using a clear and convincing evidentiary standard also.
In most cases, students facing accusations are encouraged to consult with legal counsel. An attorney is permitted to serve in this advisory capacity; however, all advisors may be limited in terms of active participation based on the institution's guidelines. Your attorney will work to protect your rights and pursue your best interests at all stages of the proceedings including during the investigation, if a hearing is convened, and if an appeal becomes necessary.
Attorney Provides Advisory Representation for Students in Title IX Disciplinary Matters
Have you been notified that you have allegedly violated your college or university's guidelines related to Title IX in Mississippi? If the allegations are proven, students may face harsh consequences including suspension or expulsion. Joseph D. Lento is an attorney that will diligently represent you in these actions. Please feel free to contact the office at (888) 535-3686.
Mississippi 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:
- Alcorn State University
- Antonelli College Hattiesburg
- Antonelli College Jackson
- Belhaven University
- Blue Cliff College Gulfport
- Blue Mountain College
- Coahoma Community College
- Copiah Lincoln Community College
- Delta State University
- East Central Community College
- East Mississippi Community College
- Hinds Community College
- Holmes Community College
- Itawamba Community College
- ITT Technical Institute Madison
- Jackson State University
- Jones County Junior College
- Meridian Community College
- Miller Motte Technical College Gulfport
- Millsaps College
- Mississippi College
- Mississippi Delta Community College
- Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
- Mississippi State University
- Mississippi University for Women
- Mississippi Valley State University
- Northeast Mississippi Community College
- Northwest Mississippi Community College
- Pearl River Community College
- Rust College
- Southeastern Baptist College
- Southwest Mississippi Community College
- Tougaloo College
- University of Mississippi
- University of Phoenix Jackson Campus
- University of Southern Mississippi
- Virginia College Biloxi
- William Carey 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 Mississippi 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.