Beware Title IX Enforcement
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 doesn't just guarantee that girls have equal opportunities to high school sports. Title IX also requires high schools to discourage, prevent, and address sexual harassment and sexual violence. Title IX even requires high schools to discourage some forms of hazing and bullying, even cyber-bullying. If your student's high school doesn't take those steps, then it could suffer loss of federal funding. The high school and its officials could also be liable to pay damages that students suffer because of Title IX violations that the high school deliberately ignored. High school disciplinary officials are well aware of the U.S. Department of Justice case summaries showing courts holding schools and their officials liable for damages into the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.
Title IX requirements and the risks that they create for high school officials who ignore them mean that high schools will, in some cases, zealously enforce and even over-enforce against alleged Title IX offenders. You and your high school student must watch out for Title IX enforcement actions. You may assume that high school hijinks are simply a part of any student's growing up. High schools can be appropriately tolerant of youthful misbehavior, the unfortunate outcome of which the student needs to learn and mature. But when those hijinks involve sexual conduct regulated under Title IX, high schools cannot look the other way or chalk it up to experiential learning. They will instead investigate and punish, sometimes severely, with suspensions and expulsions.
Title IX discipline can leave an ugly mark on a high school student's otherwise pristine record. Title IX discipline is not like other forms of high school discipline. Title IX discipline isn't, for instance, like discipline for skipping or disrupting class. Because Title IX prohibits sex discrimination, including things like sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking, Title IX discipline implies some degree of sexual deviance, even if a high school student's specific Title IX violation involved nothing like sexual assault, stalking, or dating violence. Society, in all its rights, opportunities, and privileges, can be especially intolerant of sexual deviance. High school Title IX discipline can leave a stronger inference of bad character than other forms of high school discipline, even if the Title IX violation was non-violent and relatively minor.
Routes into Military Service
Many high school students gain an interest in pursuing military service, whether because of family commitments, civic duty, career opportunities, or a combination of healthy interests and ambitions. High school students have several routes into the military. High school students interested in military service may simply enlist when reaching the required age of majority. Just as often, though, high school students interested in military service may apply to one of the nation's distinguished military service academies. If a service academy is too far of a reach, the high school student interested in military service may seek admission to a military college like The Citadel, or simply plan on participating in a college or university Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program or by applying to Officer Candidates School / Officer Training School while in college. Better, many high school students reasonably conclude, to train as a military officer than to enter as an enlisted military member.
All routes for a high school student to pursue military service, though, require at least some degree of preparation and qualification. Gaining entrance to a military service academy is a remarkable honor and select privilege. Very few high school students who apply, indeed fewer than ten percent, manage to win entrance. Anything negative on the applicant's high school record can cost the student admission to the prestigious academy program. And military schools, other colleges and universities having ROTC programs, and the military services themselves all have their own entrance requirements. In short, it's not as easy to get into a good school or program or even to enlist in the military service as one might initially think.
Risks for Students Aspiring to Military Service
You and your high school student must be especially careful that your student doesn't fall victim to overzealous enforcement of Title IX regulations if your student aspires to military service. High school Title IX discipline is a black mark and red flag on a service academy entrance application when a single such mark can cause the application's rejection. High school Title IX discipline may keep a student from gaining admission not only to a service academy but also to a military school or other good school with a solid ROTC program. And if one does get in, the black mark of Title IX discipline may limit opportunities within the institution and promotions within the institution's programs. No high school student interested in military service wants any Title IX discipline on the student's high school record. High school students should start adult life with a clean slate, not a black mark closing doors to significant opportunities.
What Title IX Prohibits
High school students interested in military service, and their proud parents, may mistakenly assume that avoiding a Title IX violation is as simple as avoiding a violent sex crime like sexual assault. But high school Title IX misconduct codes and their definitions can be far more subtle. Title IX codes reach and prohibit many non-violent behaviors. The National Federation of State High School Associations provides technical information for developing high school Title IX policies. The Federation informs high schools and their state associations that Title IX policies must prohibit not only sexual violence but also sexual harassment, including hazing or bullying of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can even be of the hostile environment type, where severe or pervasive unwelcome sexual words or actions create a hostile educational environment.
A hostile environment may sound like an extraordinary circumstance, one easily detected and avoided. But Title IX law and regulations anticipate the sensitivity of many students to sexual statements of virtually any kind. Title IX law determines whether an environment is hostile based on a reasonable person's viewpoint rather than an unusually sensitive individual. But the standard for Title IX violations also considers whether the complaining individual regarded the sexual conduct as unwelcome. And once a student shows that the student does not welcome the conduct, the objective standard may require the other student to cease any sexual innuendo, even words and actions that others would regard as harmless. High school students interested in military service and other high school students may mistakenly assume that they can exhibit some degree of confidence or even bravado around sexual banter and byplay. But Title IX can prohibit exactly that kind of loose conduct when it adversely affects another student's educational environment.
The Ambiguity of Title IX Conduct Codes
In short, what might once have passed for innocent sexual jokes, innuendo, and horseplay, and schools might once have tolerated as part of students exploring their sexuality while maturing in their conduct and relationships, may now be a Title IX violation. High schools may also define sexual misconduct to include behavior well beyond Title IX's prohibitions. The sexual misconduct policy for the Boston Public Schools, for example, prohibits not just sexual violence and harassment but also “unwanted comments about a student's body” and “sending, saving, or posting sexual words, images, or videos to, from, or of a student.” These policies can implicate virtually any conduct of a sexual nature or conduct that students may misconstrue as having been of a sexual nature.
Sexual statements of any kind may well be entirely off-limits when high school disciplinary officials begin applying Title IX policies to protect certain high school students. Yet, in our sexualized society, sensitive students can find sexual content in many words, actions, videos, photographs, music, and other sources that high school students regularly encounter. Innocent high school students having no intent to share sexual content have inadvertently done so simply by engaging the culture. Broad and ambiguous Title IX codes increase the risks that a high school student interested in military service will inadvertently trigger a Title IX disciplinary proceeding.
Challenging High School Title IX Charges
The risks of a misguided and overreaching high school Title IX charge are real, not imaginary. And the damage to a high school student's reputation and future from Title IX discipline is also real and substantial. Those risks and that damage make all the more important challenging high school Title IX charges. Students facing Title IX charges, and their concerned parents, mostly just wish that the whole thing would go away. But they must not let that desire for the matter to end influence their decision on whether to fight the charges. Yes, admitting to a Title IX violation may end a disciplinary proceeding. But then, the student must face and accept the discipline, with all of its potentially lifelong consequences. The far better course is to contest the charges with the help of an expert academic Title IX defense attorney.
High school students interested in military service have more reason than ever to challenge false, unfair, or exaggerated Title IX charges. The military services, especially the Marines but in fact all service branches, proceed on honor systems. A servicemember's prospects for advancement are only as good as the servicemember's reputation. And reputation begins with a strong foundation. Covering up a history of misconduct and discipline is far harder than keeping a record clean in the first instance. Any high school student interested in military service should be challenging Title IX charges while making every effort to resolve those charges without misconduct findings and discipline.
The Role of a High School Title IX Defense Attorney
Fortunately, high school students interested in military service have expert help available to fight false, unfair, and potentially damaging Title IX charges. A high school student facing Title IX charges, and the student's duly concerned parents, can retain a high school Title IX defense attorney to help defend and defeat the charges. Title IX charges don't have to mean the student's loss of the ambition to enter military service. Preserve the student's military career by retaining a high school Title IX defense attorney. A high school Title IX defense attorney can do many things to turn the prosecutorial tide and prevent the student from suffering potentially lifelong consequences. A high school Title IX defense attorney can, among other things:
- Timely answer the charges without losing procedural rights or mistakenly admitting to misconduct
- Investigate, analyze, and evaluate the allegations, including discovering exonerating evidence and collecting mitigating evidence
- Clarify the charges and get the school's evidence of wrongdoing for inspection, evaluation, and challenges
- Communicate with school disciplinary officials in ways that build the officials' respect for a sound and aggressive defense
- Prepare for any formal hearing, including preparing witnesses for testimony and preparing cross-examination, and conduct the hearing or facilitate its conduct as procedural rules permit
- Build relationships and trust with school disciplinary officials to pave the way for accommodated and compromise relief while presenting mitigating evidence and circumstances
- Negotiate with school disciplinary officials and any affected party for a compromise resolution acceptable to all sides, preserving the accused student's clean record
- Propose creative and positive solutions alternative to disciplinary sanctions and permanent findings of misconduct on the accused student's record
- Appeal any adverse findings and sanctions, and otherwise challenge and seek to overturn findings and sanctions through alternative administrative routes or litigation as necessary
Premier High School Title IX Defense Attorney Available
National Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped hundreds of high school, college, and university students nationwide defend and defeat Title IX charges. Attorney Lento has committed his law practice and law firm to the defense of students so that those students can pursue their dreams through valuable and rewarding education. Attorney Lento has also developed a premier team of forensic and consulting experts to assist in defense of Title IX and other misconduct charges. When you retain Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm, not only do you get one of the most experienced Title IX legal teams in the United States, you gain access to a network of skilled experts with impressive forensic credentials. Call 888.535.3686 or contact online now.