What is Title IX?

“Title IX” is a federal law that requires all schools – including colleges, universities, and K-12 – that get any federal funding to ensure that all students can access their education free from gender discrimination. Since almost every university and college in the United States gets some type of federal funding, even if the school is private, most schools must follow Title IX.

How does Title IX protect me from campus sexual assault?

Title IX prohibits gender discrimination in education, not just in athletic programs. Because sexual assault is a crime of gender-based violence, it is unlawful discrimination for schools to allow sexual assault to happen and do nothing to stop it. Title IX protects all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Because you are a student, Title IX applies even if you are assaulted by a fellow student off-campus, or if you were assaulted by someone who is not a student. Note for Transgender and Gender Non-conforming Students: Title IX protects all students from sexual assault, regardless of gender identity. You may have heard that, in 2017, the Trump Administration rescinded a guidance document that explained that Title IX’s prohibition against sex discrimination in education included discrimination based on gender identity. That guidance document was an important acknowledgement of transgender and gender non-conforming people’s rights, but taking it away does not change your school’s responsibility to take action to protect student survivors of sexual assault, regardless of gender identity.

What are my rights under Title IX?

You have the right to file a complaint with your school against the person who assaulted you. Title IX requires your school to promptly respond to your complaint of sexual assault, and to provide an impartial process for investigating and resolving it. Find out more about filing a complaint with your school here. As of the date this Guide was released, the Trump Administration has stated its intent to revisit and change the rules outlining schools’ obligations under Title IX, but has not yet done so. If the rules do change, we will update this Guide. Until that time, we recommend that you consult with a lawyer or a sexual assault advocate to learn more about your legal rights under Title IX and to decide what form of legal or other action may be most effective, supportive, and healing for you.

How do I file a complaint?

Your school’s response and procedure will depend on the perpetrator’s affiliation with the school. See the Filing a Campus Complaint section of this website for more information. Your school must also tell you about your options for protection while your complaint against the perpetrator is pending, such as getting the school to prohibit the person who assaulted you from contacting you.

Do I have to report the assault to the police if I want to file a complaint with my school?

No. Filing a complaint with your campus is not the same as reporting the assault to the police. You have this option regardless of whether you report the assault to the police. For more information about your rights when reporting to the police, see Contacting or Not Contacting the Police and Your Rights in the Criminal Justice System.

Can my school still help me if I don’t file a complaint with the school or with the police?

Yes. Regardless of whether you choose to move forward with filing a complaint with your school or the police, your school must provide you with certain accommodations to keep you safe. Accommodations may include making changes to your living situation, class schedule, assignment due dates, transportation, dining, or working arrangements.
Title IX also prohibits your school, including your professors, administrators, or other students, from retaliating against you for reporting a sexual assault. If this happens, you can file a Title IX complaint against your school. You may also have rights to accommodations from your school under another federal law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA bars schools from using someone’s disability to disqualify them from access to an education program, and from using their disability against them in the context of a sexual assault complaint investigation. Both depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are typically considered disabilities under the ADA. If you are a student employee, you have protections under the ADA, too. Your employer has to make reasonable accommodation for you if they know about your disability. If an employee with a known disability is having a hard time doing their job, an employer may ask whether the employee is in need of a reasonable accommodation. An employer cannot ask questions about your medical or psychiatric history during an interview. Examples of reasonable accommodations for people with a psychiatric disability, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder:

  • Providing self-paced workloads and flexible hours
  • Modifying job responsibilities
  • Allowing leave during periods of hospitalization or incapacity
  • Assigning a supportive and understanding supervisor
  • Modifying work hours to allow people to attend appointments with their psychiatrist
  • Providing easy access to supervision and supports in the workplace
  • Providing frequent guidance and feedback about job performance

Your Rights Under Title IX