Title IX and Special Education in Elementary and Secondary Schools: Conflicting Rights, Challenging Opportunities
Vargas, Lauren Micek
INTRODUCTION In July of 2022, Title IX turned 50 years old. The Education Amendments Act (to the Civil Rights Act) of 1972 was an omnibus spending bill that addressed a multitude of issues. It included direct federal student aid, desegregation and busing, funding for indigenous children, and prohibition of sex discrimination in Title IX of the Act. Title IX’s purpose is to ensure that public funds (collected in the form of taxation from all citizens) are not utilized in ways that encourage, subsidize, permit, or result in prohibited discrimination against some people. In short, Title IX states no person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. While commonly thought of as an “equity in sports” law due to its impact on equalizing athletic opportunities for women, Title IX carries particular weight in its regulatory requirement that public schools respond promptly to complaints of sex discrimination and thereafter prevent it. Since 1997, Title IX guidance has noted that treating people differently on the basis of sex includes sexual harassment, and thus protects students from sexual harassment in educational programs or activities. It is this area of Title IX, and its interrelationship with special education laws in our elementary and secondary schools, that is the focus of this article.
Creighton University School of Law