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Office for Civil Rights Blog - 20210308


March 8, 2021
Protecting Students: Sex Discrimination

Equal access to education is at the heart of our mission in the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.  But sexual harassment and violence threaten this access for students of all ages, disrupting and derailing opportunities to learn, participate and thrive in and outside the classroom.

Congress made a commitment to America’s students, nearly a half-century ago, when it enacted Title IX to address the harms of sex discrimination in educational programs and activities.  

Fulfilling this promise has long been a priority for President Biden.  And in OCR, we welcome our responsibility to help carry out the President’s Executive Order on Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.

In this order, President Biden says:  “It is the policy of my Administration that all students should be guaranteed an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, including discrimination in the form of sexual harassment, which encompasses sexual violence, and including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.” The order requires the Department to review and reconsider all existing regulations and guidance, and issue new guidance as needed to carry out this policy and Title IX’s commitment.

Importantly, the Executive Order also recognizes that students sometimes experience multiple forms of discrimination at once, including based on race, disability, and national origin, and that LGBTQ+ students are subject to sexual harassment, including sexual violence, at significant rates. It also underscores our responsibility to ensure that educational institutions are providing appropriate support for students who have experienced sex discrimination; and to ensure that their school procedures are fair and equitable for all.

In OCR, we recognize that many students, parents, faculty, school staff and administrators and other members of the public have important insights to share, including about the terrible losses caused by sexual harassment and violence in educational environments, the need for students who have experienced sexual harassment and violence to have appropriate supports available to them, and the importance of prompt, effective and fair school-based processes to address incidents when they occur. Over time, we will create opportunities for all who are interested to share their views.

In the meantime, we thank you for your efforts to prevent sexual harassment, including sexual violence, and to support equal educational opportunities for all of our nation’s students.


Suzanne B. Goldberg
Acting Assistant Secretary, Office for Civil Rights
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Operations and Outreach
U.S. Department of Education

Last Modified: 03/09/2021