Monday, December 20, 2010

The Broad Brush Of Title IX Discrimination…

Most people think of Title IX only in terms of women sports, to balance out the inequities with men’s sports, but it is much more than just sports. In October, the US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights issued a letter to all people in education reminding them that bullying and harassment can fall under Title IX,
The label used to describe an incident (e.g., bullying, hazing, teasing) does not determine how a school is obligated to respond. Rather, the nature of the conduct itself must be assessed for civil rights implications. So, for example, if the abusive behavior is on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or disability, and creates a hostile environment, a school is obligated to respond in accordance with the applicable federal civil rights statutes and regulations enforced by OCR.
The letter also goes on to state,
Title IX also prohibits sexual harassment and gender based harassment of all students, regardless of the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the harasser or target.
The is a very powerful letter, the interpretitation of Title IX to cover not just sports but all civil rights violation protects a broad range of activities.

The importance of hiring an attorney who understands Title IX is an important lesson to learn,
Raped Cheerleader's Suit Misses Title IX Complaint
By Wendy Murphy
WeNews contributing editor
Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Title IX has been pigeon-holed as a sports-equity law for schools. Wendy Murphy says an unconscionable case of sex harassment against a Texas cheerleader shows how this widespread misunderstanding of the law hinders justice.

(WOMENSENEWS)--Title IX requires schools to take "prompt and effective" steps to redress sexual harassment, sexual assault and any other form of sex discrimination. It also forbids schools from exacerbating a situation by creating or allowing a hostile environment to develop on campus in the aftermath of a reported sexual assault.

An unconscionable situation in Silsbee, Texas, has unfolded, thus far, completely unaffected by either of these two federal law mandates.

Two years ago, a 16-year-old high school cheerleader was raped by a star athlete at a house party following a football game. The guy was ultimately convicted. But not only was he not punished by the school in any way before that, he was allowed to keep playing sports while the criminal investigation was underway.
Nobody knew the law, not her lawyer nor the school administrators (at least I hope they didn’t know the law and just didn’t want to lose a football player). But her story gets worst…
The victim continued to cheer for the school's teams in general, but she refused to cheer specifically for her attacker. When he did something worthy of individual recognition during a game, she stepped away from the rest of her squad and crossed her arms.

For this act of defiance, the victim was berated and sent home by the school's principal. Days later, she was kicked off the squad completely and banned from cheerleading for the duration of her high school career.
Can you imagine what this woman went through only to be re-victimized again by the school officials. Her lawyer filed a lawsuit against the school for violating her 1st Amendment right of free speech… Wrong, the judge threw out the case.
Her parents filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming their daughter's free speech rights had been violated. The judge dismissed the case on the grounds that the school had no duty under the First Amendment to allow the victim to cheer--or not to cheer. The judge also ordered her parents to pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs to the school's lawyers.
Talk about throwing salt on a wound. All because her lawyer did not know that Title IX requires schools to provide a safe learning environment.

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