There are currently 23 postsecondary educational institutions statewide in Montana with an enrollment of approximately 40,000 students. Most U.S. schools are tasked with maintaining compliance with federal guidelines within Title IX. Implemented in 1972, this civil rights amendment from the U.S. Department of Education relates to sexually-based discrimination in educational settings.
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) provides enforcement and ongoing guidance. Institutions must designate a Title IX Coordinator who establishes written procedures about how any complaints of sexual discrimination are handled. Schools do have some flexibility in creating their provisions. There is an emphasis placed on fairness for all parties and that the process is free from any conflicts of interest.
Potential Institutional Exemptions
Certain educational institutions are afforded an exemption from Title IX. This often applies to schools affiliated with religious groups whose beliefs are inconsistent with the provisions in Title IX. For example, some organizations do not offer training programs for ministry leadership roles to women based on their tenets.
Examples of Violations
- Sexual harassment may occur when appeals for sexual favors or other unwanted advances are made
- Acts of sexual violence such as rape, coercion or other acts perpetrated against an unwilling victim
- Acts of gender-based harassment include threats or stereotypes that create hostility in an educational environment
- Denying or discouraging access to or participation in academic programs, athletics, or other school-related activities based on gender identity or sexual orientation
LGBTQ and Title IX
An estimated 10% of postsecondary students self-identify as being either lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or queer (LGBTQ). Federal guidelines have been updated to address issues such as gender identity and sexual orientation relating to Title IX. In a statement, they acknowledged that the protections do extend to "claims of discrimination based on gender identity." Title IX protections apply to "remedy sexual violence regardless if based on a student's actual or perceived sexual orientation."
Allegations of Misconduct Against LGBTQ Students
LGBTQ students have traditionally been more likely to face stereotypes and forms of discrimination in group settings. When an LGBTQ student faces accusations related to sexual misconduct there may be feelings of isolation or uneasiness regarding the disciplinary process. Fortunately, the majority of institutions allow all parties to choose an advisor that can provide support and assistance amid these disciplinary proceedings.
Role of an Advisor
Many institutions do restrict those serving as an advisor from actively participating in hearings or other proceedings. For example, the advisor may not be permitted to speak directly on behalf of the party. Having an attorney act in this advisory role is typically very beneficial. This results from being well prepared to issue statements and effectively respond to questions. An attorney will also be able to protect an accused student's interests through all stages of the proceedings including during the investigation, if a hearing is held, and if an appeal becomes necessary to challenge any potential findings and/or sanctions.
The written policies and procedures are established and made available to students, faculty, and staff. After receiving a complaint (allegation), the staff is responsible for beginning to investigate promptly.
Evidentiary Standards and Sanctions
The evidentiary standard used has been by a preponderance of the evidence. An option also exists for using a clear and convincing evidence standard as well. Those who are determined to have committed violations may have difficult sanctions imposed such as being suspended or expelled.
Experienced Attorney Represents Students in Title IX Disciplinary Matters in Montana
Are you a student that is facing disciplinary actions relating to a violation of Title IX at an educational institution in Montana? You deserve advisory assistance from a lawyer that is well-versed in these actions. Contact the office of the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686.
Montana 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
- Blackfeet Community College
- Carroll College
- Chief Dull Knife College
- Dawson Community College
- Flathead Valley Community College
- Fort Belknap College
- Fort Peck Community College
- Little Big Horn College
- Miles Community College
- Montana State University
- Montana State University Billings
- Montana State University Great Falls College of Technology
- Montana State University Northern
- Montana Tech of the University of Montana
- Montana Tech College of Technology
- Rocky Mountain College
- Salish Kootenai College
- Stone Child College
- The University of Montana
- The University of Montana Western
- University of Great Falls
- University of Montana Helena College of Technology
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 Montana 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.