Title IX's prohibition against gender discrimination in higher education is wide-reaching. It's intended to cover a host of gender-related issues that create a hostile educational environment, like a disparity in athletic opportunities, inequitable admission, sexual violence, and sexual harassment.
But recently there's been a need to extend the provisions of Title IX to protect a vulnerable demographic of students that desperately need the coverage. LGBTQ+ students are subjected to discrimination, particularly sexual misconduct, at drastically higher rates than their non-queer counterparts.
LGBTQ+ Students as Respondents
The topic of LGBTQ+ students as victims of gender discrimination is one that is routinely explored. But it's rare that people generate conversations surrounding what happens when LGBTQ+ are falsely accused of sexual misconduct. Being apart of a demographic that is already very marginalized while simultaneously being branded a perpetrator of any kind of sexual misconduct can be devastating for queer respondents. Before one can even prove their innocence, society projects a premature judgment onto respondents that will cause some people to treat them poorly.
The Impact of Stereotypes and Prejudices
Many LGBTQ+ students struggle to gain acceptance on college campuses in the first place. With these allegations attached to their name, the small community they once found refuge in may reject them, further isolating them. Not to mention that they're less likely to garner any type of sympathy due to society's perpetuation of stereotypes and false characterizations of their sexuality. To many, LGBTQ+ people are perceived as over-sexualized and impulsive with uncontrollable sexual urges. When people start to believe these stereotypes, it creates an even more dangerous environment for queer respondents who are already prone to being bullied and minimizes the likelihood of people believing their side of the story.
If you are an LGBTQ+ student who has been accused of sexual misconduct, you are afforded several rights throughout the Title IX process:
- The right to receive notice of the charges brought against you: When a report is submitted to school authorities by an accuser, the institution must inform you of these charges before school processes or disciplinary actions commence. Schools don't always conduct themselves in a fair manner though, however.
- The right to hear a description of the university's evidence against you: In some instances, a college or university may inform you of the charges brought against you, but they provide little information about the evidence. In order for you to adequately defend yourself, you must be aware of all the evidence that will be used against you. When this information is not available, the process can't be fair or impartial.
- The right to have your case heard under standard procedures used for all similar cases: This right guarantees that all cases are mitigated in a standardized and consistent fashion across the board.
- The right to present your account of events to an impartial panel: The importance of having a panel that isn't biased in any form or fashion cannot be understated.
- The right to certain student services: You should not be denied access to counseling services or any other services offered by the school.
- The right to have an attorney present during the hearing: Just about every higher education institution gives the accused the option of having an “advisor” to assist them during school processes and hearings. Many students hire a lawyer to be their advisor to ensure that their rights are fully protected and to send the message to schools that they are being watched for possible misconduct.
Unfortunately, innocent LGBTQ+ respondents often times aren't afforded any source of support. It's not unusual for their own family and friends, who may or may not secretly harbor feelings of prejudice, to question their innocence. This is why if you are a queer respondent, you absolutely need the legal guidance of a student defense attorney.
Student Defense Attorney Helping Clients in West Virginia
If you are an LGBTQ+ student in West Virginia whose been accused of sexual misconduct, it may seem like you're in the Title IX process alone. But you can retain an advocate who will be on your side, regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has dedicated his entire life to helping students of all demographics put up a fight when falsely accused of sexual misconduct. He'll help you gather facts, testify, and gain an understanding of your school's policies and processes so you have a fighting chance. Contact him today at 888-535-3686.
West Virginia colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your LGBTQ+ student's Title IX advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- Alderson Broaddus College
- American Public University System
- Appalachian Bible College
- Bethany College
- Blue Ridge Community and Technical College
- Bluefield State College
- Bridgemont Community and Technical College
- Concord University
- Davis & Elkins College
- Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College
- Fairmont State University
- Glenville State College
- Huntington Junior College
- ITT Technical Institute Huntington
- Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College
- Marshall University
- Mountain State College
- Mountain State University
- Mountwest Community and Technical College
- New River Community and Technical College
- Ohio Valley University
- Pierpont Community and Technical College
- Potomac State College of West Virginia University
- Salem International University
- Shepherd University
- Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College
- University of Charleston
- Valley College Beckley
- Valley College Martinsburg
- Valley College Princeton
- West Liberty University
- West Virginia Business College Wheeling
- West Virginia Junior College Bridgeport
- West Virginia Junior College Charleston
- West Virginia Junior College Morgantown
- West Virginia Northern Community College
- West Virginia State University
- West Virginia University
- West Virginia University at Parkersburg
- West Virginia University Institute of Technology
- West Virginia Wesleyan College
- Wheeling Jesuit 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 Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and serves as a Title IX advisor to students facing Title IX and disciplinary cases in West Virginia 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.