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Nothing in a vacuum: Title IX, sexual harassment and the need for cultural shift

A SYTYCB entry

Title IX has given us plenty to cheer about this year.  Enacted in 1972 as an amendment to the Higher Education Act of 1965, Title IX mandates that educational institutions and activities receiving federal funding may not discriminate on the basis of sex.  The amendment is most well known for its impact on women’s sports.  Lady-athletes were once thought of as strange and deviant, but Title IX helped skyrocket women in sports to a new level of training and respect.  It’s by far the biggest success of Title IX, and often the only thing the amendment is known for.

Fighting sexual harassment in schools is one of Title IX’s lesser-known areas of impact.  All publically funded educational institutions are required to have a Title IX Coordinator on staff that is trained to handle student reports of sexual harassment, including harassment from students, teachers and staff.

If this doesn’t sound like a familiar scenario from your school days, you’re not alone.  The overwhelming majority New York City public schools do not have Title IX Coordinators, and many have never even heard of the legally required position*.  Some schools argue that such a position is unnecessary; sexual harassment does not happen at their schools.

Except that it definitely does.

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