Sexual harassment of students is illegal’ A federal law, Title IX of the. EducationAmendments 0f 1972 (Titk 1,$, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex,
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U. S. Department of Education Margaret SpellingsSecretaryOffice for Civil Rights Stephanie Monroe Assistant SecretaryRevised September 2008.This publication is in the public domain. Authorization to reproduceit in whole or in part is granted. The publication’s citation should be: U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Sexual Haras s m en t: I t\ No t A c a demi c,Washington, D. C., 2008.To order copies of this publication, write to: EDPubsEducational Publications CenterU.S. Department of Education P.O. Box 1398 Jessup, MD 20794-1.398You may fax your order to: 30I-470-7244 or send an e-mail request to: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also call toll-free: 7-877-433-7827 (1.-877-4-ED-PUBS).If877 service is not yet avallable in your area,yolt may cal),I-800-872- 5327 (1,-800-USA-LEARN). Those who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a teletypewriter (TTY) should call 1.-877-576-7734.To order online, point your Internet browser to:http://edpubs.ed.gov. This publication also is available on the Department’s Web siteathttp://www.ed.govlocr. Any updates to this publication willbeavailable at this Web site. On request, this publication is available in alternate formats, such as Braille,large print, or computer diskette. For more information, youmay contact the Department’s Alternate Format Center at202-260- 0852 or 202-260-0818. Ifyou use aTDD, call 1-800-877-8339. ii
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ContentsIntroduction. IPart One: Defining Sexual Harassment What is sexual harassment? . . . . What are some examples of sexual conduct?. Is all physical contact sexual in nature? What if the sexual conduct is criminal in nature? Mustthesexualconductbeunwelcome?.. ..When does senual conduct “deny or limit a student’s ability to particrpate in or benefit from a school’s education program?”. . . . . . Can young school children engage in sexual harassment? . . . . . . . . Ate gay and lesbian students protected from sexral harassment?. . . 3aJaJ445578PartTwo: RespondingtoSexualHarassment . 9How should a school respond when it receives information aboutallegedsexualharassment?. .9What if the victim requests confidentiality or asks that the complaintnotbepursued? ..9Does a school have to do anything about sexral harassment if a particular incident is not reported to the school? . . . 10 What actions, tf ^y,should schools take while investigatingacomplaint?. .LIWhat does a school have to do once the investigation is complete? 11 What are some examples of the steps a school should take to endharassment andpreventitfrom happening agun? . . . . . . . . 73 What are some examples ofhowa school canrcmedy the effects ofsexualharassment?. ..13lu
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PartThree: Reporting and Preventing Sexual Harassment . . . . . 15Who should reportincidents ofsexual harassment?. . . . . . . . . . . . .15To whom should a victim or other individual reporttheharassment?. .15What if the harasser threatens to retaliare against the victim ifhe orshereports theincident?. ..15What procedures must a school have in place to prevent sorual harassmentandresolvecomplaints? ..16Whataregrievanceprocedures?. .16Whatdoesthe TitlelXcoordinatordo?.. ..16Howdo I knowwho myschool’s Title IX coordinator is? . . . . . . .,17 What other steps can a school take to prevent socual harassment? 17What is OC& and how do I report incidents of sorual harassment tothatoffice? .17Where can I get more information about a school’s responsibilities toaddressandpreventsexualharassment? . .18lv
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IntroductionSexual harassment of students is illegal’ A federal law, Title IX of the EducationAmendments 0f 1972 (Titk 1,$, prohibits discriminationon the basis of sex, including sexual harassment, in education programs and activities. A1l public and private education institutionsihai receive any federal funds must comply with Title IX. Title IXprotects students from harassment connected to any of the academic,educational, extracurricular, athletic, and other programs or activities of schools, regardless of the location. Title IX protects both male andfemale students from sexual harassmentby any school empioyee,another student, or a non-employee third party. Preventing and remedying sexual harassment in schools is essential to ensure a nondiscriminatory, safe environment in which studentscan learn. Unfortunately, students, Parents, and school staff maynot know what sexual harassment is, how to stoP it, and whatcan be done to prevent it from happening. This pamphlet uses a question-and-answer format to provide students, Parents, schooladministrators, school employees, and others with fundamentalinformation on recognizing and, addressing sexual harassmentunder Title IX as it is interpreted by the U.S. Department ofEducationt Office for Civil Rights (OCR). OCR is the federalagency responsible for enforcing Title lXin schools that receivefederal funds from the U.S. Department of Education.
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Part One: Defining Sexual HarassmentWhat is sexual harassment?Sexual harassment is conduct that: 1) is sexual in nature; 2) is unwelcome; and 3) denies or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from a school’s education program.Sexual harassment can take different forms depending on theharasser and the nature of the harassment. The conduct can be carried out by school employees, other students, and non-employee third parties, such as a visiting speaker. Both male and female students can be victims of sexual harassment. and the harasser and the victim can be of the same sex. The conduct can occur in any school program or activity and can take place in school facilities, on a school bus, or at other off- campus locations, such as a school-sponsored field trip or a training program at another location. Tlie conduct can be verbal, nonverbal, or physical. The judgment and common sense of teachers and school administrators are very important elements in determining whether sexual harassment has occurred and in determining an appropriate response, especially when dealing with young children.What are some examples of sexual conduct? Examples of sexual conduct include:’ making sexual propositions or pressuring students for sexual favors; ‘ touching of a sexual nature;’ writing graffiti of a sexual nature;’ displaying or distributing sexually explicit drawings, pictures, orwritten materials:
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performing sexual gestures or touching oneself sexualiy in frontof others: telling sexual or dirty jokes;spreading sexual rumors or rating other students as to sexualactivitlr or performance; orcirculating or showing e-mails or Web sites of a sexual nature. Example; A school official sends a student a text messageto arrange a time to meet for a sexual encounter. Sendingsuch a text message would constitute sexual conduct.Is all pbysical contact sexual in nature? No. Legitimate nonsexual touching or conduct generally will not be considered sexual harassment. However, it may rise to that levelif it takes on sexual connotations.Example: A high school athletic coach hugs a srudentwho makes a goal. This by itself is not considered sexualconduct. However, a coach’s hugging of a student could beconsidered sexual conduct if it is unwelcome and occurs under,inappropriate circumstances.LVhat if the sexual conduct is criminal in nature?Sexual harassment includes conduct that is criminal in nature, such as rape, sexual assault, dating violence, and sexually motivatedstalking. Even if a school reports possible criminal conduct to the police, that does not relieve the school of its responsibilities underTitle lX,which are discussed in Part Two.
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Must the sexual conduct be unwelcorne? Yes. Conduct is considered unwelcome if the student did not request or invite it and considered the conduct to be undesirable or offensive. The age of the student, the nature of the conduct,and other relevant factors affect whether a student was capable of welcoming the sexual conduct. A student’s submission to the conduct or failure to complain does not always mean that the conduct was welcome. F-xample 1: A middle school student makes offensive sexualjokes to another student, but the student does not object to the jokes or speak out against them.The student’s failure to object does not mean that he or she has welcomed the comments- F-nample2: A female high school studentwillingly kisses a male student on one occasion. When the student subsequently attempts to kiss her again, she objects, but he kisses her anyway. This subsequent kiss is considered to beunwelcome despite the welcomeness of the first kiss. Wben does sexual conduct “deny or limit a student\ ability to participate in or beneftfrom a scbool’s education program?”Two general types of sexual conduct can deny or limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from a schoolt program. As discussed below, teachers and other school employees can engage in either type of conduct, while students and third parties can engage in only one type. One form of sexual harassment occurs when a teacher or other school employee conditions an educational decision or benefiton the student’s submission to unwelcome sexual conduct.If this
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occurs, it does not matter whether the student resists and suffers the threatened harm or submits to and avoids the threatened harm. Sexual harassment also occurs when a teacher, school employee,other student, or third party qeates a hostile environmentthat is sufficiently serious to deny or limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the school’s program. Whether such a hostile environment has been created depends on the particular circumstances of the incident(s). Relevant considerations include,but are not limited to:’ how much of an adverse effect the conduct had on thestudends educationl’ the type, frequency, or duration ofthe conduct; ‘ the iddntiry age,andsex of the harasser(s) and the victim(s),and the relationship between them; ‘ the number of individuals who engaged in the harassing conduct and atwhom the harassment was directed;’ the size of the school,location of the incidents, and context inwhich they occurred; and ‘ whether other incidents occurred at the school involving different students.
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