WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today marked the anniversary of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by recognizing the momentous steps taken since its passage to protect students from discrimination and harassment. The landmark legislation prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities receiving federal funds.
Secretary Duncan noted that the Department’s work over the last year to encourage proactive efforts in key areas under Title IX, including equal access to athletic opportunities, sexual violence, gender harassment and bullying, are key to continuing Title IX’s legacy as a great civil rights success story.
“I am convinced that we are moving toward a day when students will be safe from discrimination, harassment, and physical violence in our schools,” Secretary Duncan said. “Through the protections enshrined in Title IX, and our continued collective efforts, we can ensure students a level playing field and make schools a better place for them to learn.”
The Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is vigorously leading efforts to ensure all students are afforded a safe learning environment. Last year, OCR initiated 11 Title IX compliance reviews and 13 investigations have already launched this year.
OCR began the year by issuing guidance to clarify the connection between bullying and discriminatory harassment. In addition, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali reaffirmed the priority of ensuring that schools, colleges and universities know that Title IX prohibits all forms of sex discrimination, including discrimination based on a student’s nonconformity to gender roles.
“If we are to live up to the Constitution’s core principles of fairness and equity, we cannot tolerate a culture that allows children to bully and harass each other because of race, color, national origin, sex, or disability,” Secretary Duncan said.
In April, the importance of school safety was highlighted when Vice President Biden and Secretary Duncan announced a policy to help elementary, secondary and post secondary institutions implement education and prevention efforts aimed at eliminating sexual violence against men and women. The new policy, reflecting a deep commitment across federal agencies, addressed the Department’s deep concern over the number of sexual violence incidents occurring each year.
“No school can be a great school until it is a safe school,” Secretary Duncan has said on previous occasions. “The civil rights office is ready to investigate when harassment crosses the line into violating a person's civil rights and help schools and universities develop robust remedies to change the cultures of their campuses.”
For more information on Title IX and OCR, please visit http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/publications.html#TitleIX-Docs.