In the wake of #MeToo, campus sexual-misconduct scandals, and students calling for changes in Title IX procedures, the role of Title IX training is taking on a new relevance in helping colleges and universities strengthen their sexual harassment prevention efforts.
Title IX is a comprehensive federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education programs and activities at public and private institutions that receive federal funding. Enacted in 1972, Title IX has since evolved to include protections against sexual misconduct and sexual harassment. Under Title IX, schools must implement policies and procedures to prevent sexual misconduct and to receive and process complaints of sexual misconduct.
Title IX training is evolving, too, from mainly focusing on the law to teaching behavior, awareness and actions that can help prevent sexual misconduct and promote a safe, respectful learning and working environment for students, faculty, staff and others.
Effective Title IX training can enhance your Title IX initiatives by:
- Clarifying Title IX protections, reporting procedures and the role of Title IX coordinators
Training offers a convenient and flexible way to regularly inform students, faculty, staff and others about Title IX rights and responsibilities, the function of the Title IX office and the role of Title IX coordinators and responsible employees. In addition, training should clearly explain the school’s sexual misconduct policies, reporting and investigating procedures and available resources and support.
- Raising awareness of behaviors that may constitute sexual misconduct
Effective Title IX training uses realistic examples, relatable video scenarios and other elements to raise awareness of unlawful behaviors on campus. This includes sexual violence, sexual harassment, relationship or dating violence, sexual intimidation, sexual exploitation, stalking and other unwelcome behavior. Other forms of sexual misconduct include making sexist comments or treating someone unfairly on the job or in the classroom based on their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Teaching bystander intervention techniques
Training is also a tool for teaching individuals how to be active bystanders and demonstrating intervention techniques. Being able to recognize situations in which someone is being threatened or harassed, and then knowing how to intervene appropriately, either directly or indirectly, empowers individuals to stop sexual misconduct, prevent future incidents and show their support for targets of abuse.
- Explaining the concept of consent and incapacitation
The definitions of consent and incapacitation as they relate to sexual activity may vary from state to state. That said, Title IX training should clearly explain how the concepts of consent – the mutual agreement to engage in sexual activity – and incapacitation apply to sexual misconduct, and emphasize the role that alcohol and other drugs often play in sexual violence. Obtaining consent can be an important factor in determining whether sexual assault has occurred. Depending upon the laws of particular states, incapacitation – a condition where an individual is incapable of giving consent to sexual activity – can be caused by sleep or unconsciousness, alcohol or other drugs, or certain disabilities or injuries.
- Reinforcing the consequences of failing to report
If individuals aren’t aware of the consequences of not reporting or responding appropriately to sexual misconduct, they may be reluctant to take action, and as a result put themselves and their school at risk of Title IX violations. Further, when targets of sexual misconduct fail to report it, or if responsible employees mishandle sexual assault disclosures, individuals may not get the help they need to deal with emotional and physical health issues. Training offers opportunities to reinforce the specific obligations of responsible employees (such as faculty members or supervisory staff) to promptly report misconduct and ensure that individuals understand their rights and the resources that are available to them.
In preparing for the upcoming academic year, schools may want to consider new ways to enhance their Title IX training for students, faculty, staff and responsible employees. Training should be relevant and relatable to a diverse group, raising awareness of different types of sexual misconduct and how to respond to and report incidents when they occur. Further, training offers schools an efficient way to communicate their Title IX policies and procedures, inform students of available resources and services and teach bystander intervention techniques.