Title IX training can do more than help colleges and universities meet their Title IX obligations and comply with the law. Title IX training can also be an effective way to educate and influence positive behavior, on and off campus, and reinforce the rights and responsibilities of students, faculty, staff and other employees to create a safe and respectful learning and working culture.
Here are six essential topics that Title IX training programs should address:
- What is Title IX and why is it important?
Enacted in 1972, Title IX of the Education Amendments is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education programs and activities at public and private institutions that receive federal funding. Sexual misconduct and sexual harassment are both forms of sex discrimination under Title IX, which is enforced by the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
Title IX training should explain the importance of Title IX and how it protects students, faculty and staff members from all types of sexual misconduct and retaliation, as well as parents, guardians and other individuals, who are affiliated with a school. Training should also reinforce the school’s mission to promote a safe and respectful environment through its policies, procedures, resources and services.
- What are the different types of sexual misconduct that violate Title IX?
Sexual misconduct is a term that covers many behaviors, including sexual violence, sexual harassment, relationship or dating violence, sexual intimidation, sexual exploitation, stalking and other unwelcome behavior that creates a hostile learning and working environment. Title IX training should provide realistic scenarios that show different forms of sexual misconduct – verbal, physical, overt or subtle. Sexual misconduct doesn’t have to be sexual in nature to be unlawful. It can be sexist comments or treating someone unfairly on the job or in the classroom based on their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.
- What are the duties of a Title IX coordinator and responsible employees?
Title IX training should explain what Title IX coordinators and responsible employees do, and what students need to know about their rights. Title IX coordinators are chosen to oversee the school’s response to Title IX reports and complaints, including investigations. Responsible employees are individuals who have a special obligation to report incidents of sexual misconduct. Responsible employees generally include faculty members, supervisory staff members and others who directly teach, supervise or evaluate students or employees.
- What is bystander intervention and how can it help prevent sexual misconduct?
Bystander intervention has become an increasing important method for interrupting and stopping misconduct on campuses and in workplaces. Title IX training should provide real-world examples of how active bystanders can intervene when they see someone in danger or encountering harassment or discrimination. These include speaking up, intervening directly, enlisting the help of others or contacting someone in authority. By interrupting negative behaviors on the spot, active bystanders can help prevent future incidents, and send a message that such behaviors are unacceptable, which can contribute to a safer, healthier environment for everyone.
- What is consent and incapacitation?
Consent and incapacitation are key terms related to sexual activity and may be defined differently from state to state. Title IX training should clearly communicate what is and isn’t meant by consent and highlight the role that alcohol and other drugs often play in sexual violence. In Title IX terms, consent is the mutual agreement to engage in sexual activity and it can be an important factor in determining whether sexual assault has occurred. Incapacitation is a condition where an individual is incapable of giving consent to sexual activity. Depending upon the laws of particular states, incapacitation can be caused by sleep or unconsciousness, alcohol or other drugs, or certain disabilities or injuries.
- What are the consequences of not reporting sexual misconduct?
When individuals fail to report or respond to incidents of sexual misconduct they put themselves and their school at risk of violating Title IX, and could be held liable – particularly supervisory or responsible employees. Title IX training should emphasize the duty of responsible employees to report information disclosed to them (or they hear about indirectly), and inform individuals about their rights and available resources. If responsible employees mishandle sexual assault disclosures they can cause targets of abusive behavior to shut down emotionally. And when that happens – or individuals don’t report misconduct to a responsible employee, their Title IX coordinator, or a confidential resource – they may not get the help they need and can experience depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other negative consequences.
Since it was enacted in 1972, Title IX has evolved to include protections against sexual misconduct, a topic that remains in the spotlight. Title IX training has also evolved beyond just focusing on compliance with the law. With the right content and approach that is relevant to students, faculty and staff and other employees, Title IX training can provide an engaging learning experience that promotes positive behavior, encourages active bystanders and reinforces a school’s policies and initiatives to prevent sexual misconduct and foster a safe and respectful culture.