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How Title IX Protections Apply to LGBTQ+ Students

Title IX By Binnall Law Group - 2021/09/10 at 11:59am

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding. This includes not only public and private colleges but also vocational and technical programs such as trade schools and schools for younger students.

While Title IX includes most educational institutions, it has not always been clear whether it covers all students. When members of the LGBTQ+ community face discrimination or misconduct or are accused of misconduct, how are their cases treated? An experienced Title IX attorney discusses how the Title IX protections apply to LGBTQ+ students, staff, and faculty in light of changing interpretations of regulations.

Gender and Identity are Irrelevant in Sexual Misconduct

When a student is accused of committing sexual assault, harassment, or any form of sexual misconduct, the gender of the parties involved does not matter for purposes of Title IX policies. Schools are obligated to implement the same investigative and other procedures regardless of whether the alleged incident involved two students of the same gender, different genders, or students who prefer not to be assigned a gender.

Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, and this includes sexual harassment, which has been interpreted to include unwelcome:

  • Sexual advances
  • Physical sexual acts undertaken without consent
  • Acts of aggression, intimidation, or hostility on the basis of sex or sex stereotypes
  • Requests for sexual favors

Under many interpretations, purely verbal harassment can constitute a Title IX offense if the harassment is sex-based. Students could therefore be accused and face harsh disciplinary measures for name-calling. Because the consequences can have serious long-term effects, students facing disciplinary proceedings are advised to consult a Title IX defense attorney to learn how to protect their rights.

Changes in Title IX Administrative Interpretation Affecting LGBTQ+ Students May Not Matter

Different political administrations have issued guidelines on how Title IX requirements should be interpreted. However, the most critical components for students are the regulations themselves and the school policies and procedures put in place in response to the federal requirements. 

Regardless of whether federal law does not explicitly or interpretively prohibit discrimination on the basis of perceived gender identity or sexual orientation, harassment of LGBTQ+ students that is perceived to be based on compliance with gender stereotypes is prohibited by Title IX. LGBTQ+ students are considered vulnerable by many, so students accused of a Title IX offense may face considerable difficulty defending themselves in school hearings or other proceedings. A knowledgeable Title IX attorney could help a student prepare to answer questions in a manner that avoids self-incrimination.  

Work with an Experienced Title IX Attorney

The impact of Title IX proceedings on a student’s record cannot be overestimated. Future employment and other opportunities may be put at risk, so it is advisable to consult an experienced Title IX attorney if accusations are made that could result in disciplinary proceedings. 

The dedicated legal team at Binnall Law Group understands how to make the most of defense strategies available in Title IX proceedings, which differ considerably from those used in criminal courtroom defense. For the right protection in a Title IX case, contact our office now.