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Policy Guidance

image title: Answers to common questions + our FOIA reading roomOCR’s  policy guidance materials serve an important function: to notify schools and other recipients of federal funds of their legal obligations and the ways OCR enforces federal civil rights laws, helping them to comply with the law. In some instances, the guidance OCR issues directly responds to emerging trends in discriminatory behavior, as reflected in the Civil Rights Data Collection, requests OCR receives for technical assistance, and complaint investigations. Also, when precedent-setting cases in the courts clarify specific elements of application of the law, OCR utilizes "Dear Colleague" letters and accompanying supplementary materials to help ensure that the general public understands how the decisions apply to schools, districts, and educational institutions of higher learning. When appropriate, OCR issues guidance jointly with other civil rights offices, such as the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Learn about different types of guidance documents, including how to comment on significant guidance. Educational institutions may use OCR’s policy guidance to help adjust their own policies and practices to enhance civil rights protections for students and avoid committing civil rights violations, which may eliminate the need for OCR enforcement. And students, families, and communities may utilize this guidance to better understand students’ civil rights.

Below, in chronological order, are policy guidance materials related to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.


Title of Document


September 22, 2017


Office for Civil Rights Withdraws Guidance on Sexual Violence and Issues Q&A on Campus Sexual Misconduct


The Dear Colleague Letter withdraws the statements of policy and guidance reflected in OCR’s Dear Colleague Letter on Sexual Violence (April 4, 2011), and Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence (April 29, 2014). The Q&A on Campus Sexual Misconduct provides information about how OCR will assess a school’s compliance with Title IX while it engages in rulemaking on this topic.

  • Read the Press Release

  • "Dear Colleague" letter PDF (314K)
    Carta a los Estimados Colegas PDF (130K)

  • Q&A on Campus Sexual Misconduct PDF (149K)
    Preguntas y Respuestas Sobre la Mala Conducta Sexual en el Campus PDF (165K)


February 22, 2017


Office for Civil Rights Withdraws Title IX Guidance on Transgender Students



June 15, 2016


Guidance on Gender Equity in Career and Technical Education


The "Dear Colleague" letter from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education explains that all students, regardless of their sex, must have equal access to the full range of career and technical education (CTE) programs offered. The Dear Colleague Letter includes an overview of the legal requirements most relevant to ensuring gender equity in CTE programs and provides examples of ways schools can prevent or remedy inequity.


April 24, 2015


Guidance on Obligation of Schools to Designate a Title IX Coordinator


The "Dear Colleague" letter is accompanied by a letter to Title IX coordinators that provides them with more information about their role and a Title IX resource guide that includes an overview of Title IX’s requirements with respect to several key issues. The "Dear Colleague" letter, the letter to Title IX coordinators and the Title IX Resource Guide are available on the Title IX Coordinators page.

  • "Dear Colleague" letter PDF (351K)

  • Letter to Title IX coordinators PDF (298K)

  • Title IX Resource Guide PDF (501K)

December 2015


Guidance on Voluntary Youth Service Organizations


The Dear Colleague Letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon explains the circumstances under which a school district lawfully may work with outside organizations that provide single-sex programming under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.


December 8, 2014


Guidance on Protecting Civil Rights in Juvenile Justice Residential Facilities


"Dear Colleague" letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon and Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Vanita Gupta, U.S. Department of Justice, concerning the applicability of Federal civil rights laws to juvenile justice residential facilities. The letter provides a reminder that juvenile justice residential facilities receiving Federal funds are subject to the same Federal civil rights obligations as all other public schools, and highlights some of the legal requirements related to access to academic coursework and career and vocational training, students with disabilities, English language learners, and the administration of discipline.

  • "Dear Colleague" letter PDF (676K)

December 1, 2014


Questions and Answers on Title IX and Single-Sex Elementary and Secondary Classes and Extracurricular Activities


These questions and answers clarify the legal requirements under the Department’s Title IX regulations governing single-sex elementary and secondary classes and extracurricular activities.

May 14, 2014


Guidance on Charter Schools


The letter provides a reminder that charter schools are subject to the same Federal civil rights obligations as all other public schools, and highlights some of the legal requirements related to admissions, student discipline, students with disabilities, and English language learners.

  • Press Release

  • "Dear Colleague" letter PDF (179K)
    Carta a los estimados colegas: Escuelas Chárter PDF (186K)


June 25, 2013


Guidance on Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students


"Dear Colleague" letter and pamphlet from Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Seth Galanter. This pamphlet clarifies the specific requirements of Title IX applicable to pregnant and parenting students. The pamphlet contains a FAQ section that explains the Title IX requirements and provides examples to ensure that schools understand their obligations and pregnant and parenting students understand their rights under Title IX. The pamphlet also provides information on strategies that educators may use and programs schools can develop to address the educational needs of students who become pregnant or have children. It also provides examples of promising practices designed to support pregnant and parenting students that schools may choose to implement.

April 24, 2013


Guidance on the prohibition against retaliation under Federal civil rights laws


“Dear Colleague Letter” from Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Seth Galanter clarifies the basic principles of retaliation law and describes OCR’s methods of enforcement.


October 26, 2010

  Guidance on Schools’ Obligations to Protect Students from Student-on-Student Harassment on the Basis of Sex; Race, Color and National Origin; and Disability

“Dear Colleague” letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali concerning recipients' obligations to protect students from student-on-student harassment on the basis of sex; race, color and national origin; and disability. The letter clarifies the relationship between bullying and discriminatory harassment, provides examples of harassment, and illustrates how a school should respond in each case.

April 20, 2010

  Guidance on Accommodating Students’ Athletic Interests and Abilities: Standards for Part Three of the “Three-Part Test"

“Dear Colleague" letter and a questions and answers document on the test used to determine whether institutions are meeting the Title IX regulatory requirement to accommodate students' athletic interests and abilities.

prior to 2010

January 13, 2009

  Guidance on Assurance of Compliance-Civil Rights Certificate

“Dear Colleague” letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Stephanie Monroe, concerning the obligation of recipients of federal financial assistance from, or funds made available through, the Department to submit a signed assurance of compliance with the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act and the other laws OCR enforces. This letter is a subsequent request to recipients for whom OCR has no record of receiving a signed assurance.  The letter contains instructions for completion, and encloses a blank copy of the Assurance of Compliance – Civil Rights Certificate for submission to OCR.

September 17, 2008

  Guidance on Determining which Athletic Activities Can Be Counted for Purposes of Title IX Compliance

"Dear Colleague" letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Stephanie Monroe providing recipients with information about how OCR determines which athletic activities can be counted under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), 20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.

  • "Dear Colleague" letter PDF (2.4M)

March 27, 2008

  Title IX Athletics Three-Part Test

Letter re-affirming the Department of Education's policy on the application of the Three-Part Test to high school athletics, which measures the accommodation of student athletic interests and abilities.

  • "Dear Colleague" letter PDF (1.73M)

June 25, 2007

  Guidance on Nondiscriminatory Treatment of Pregnant Students in Athletic Scholarships

"Dear Colleague" letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Stephanie Monroe addressing the Title IX regulatory requirements related to nondiscriminatory treatment of pregnant students in the context of athletic scholarships.

September 14, 2004


Title VI and Title IX Discrimination


"Dear Colleague" letter addressing the right of all students, including students of faith, to be free from discrimination in our schools and colleges under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, in cases where such discrimination may be commingled with religious discrimination.

August 4, 2004


Title IX Responsibilities


"Dear Colleague" letter reminding postsecondary institutions of Title IX responsibilities.

April 26, 2004


Title IX Responsibilities


"Dear Colleague" letter reminding chief state school officers and state and local education agencies that the Title IX regulations require recipients to designate a Title IX coordinator, adopt and disseminate a nondiscrimination policy, and put grievance procedures in place to address complaints of discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs and activities.

July 28, 2003

  First Amendment

"Dear Colleague" letter reaffirming that OCR's regulations and policies do not require or prescribe speech, conduct or harassment codes that impair the exercise of rights protected under the First Amendment.

January 2001

  Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance: Harassment of Students by School Employees, Other Students, or Third Parties

"Dear Colleague" letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Stephanie Monroe, reminding recipients of the standards applicable to OCR's enforcement of compliance in cases raising sexual harassment issues.

July 11, 2003

  Further Clarification of Intercollegiate Athletics Policy Guidance Regarding Title IX Compliance

Dear Colleague letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Gerald Reynolds

July 23, 1998

  Funding of Athletic Scholarships

"Dear Colleague" letter from Norma Cantú, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights regarding the investigation of complaints which allege discrimination in the awarding of athletic scholarships in intercollegiate athletics programs.

"Dear Colleague" letter from Dr. Mary Frances O'Shea, National Coordinator for Title IX Athletics to Bowling Green State University General Counsel, which clarifies the coverage of Title IX and its regulations as they apply to both academic and athletic programs; and the funding of athletic scholarships budgets for men's and women's intercollegiate athletics programs.

January 16, 1996

  Clarification of Intercollegiate Athletics Policy Guidance: The Three-Part Test

The memorandum from the OCR Assistant Secretary and clarification of the "three-part test" described in the Education Department's 1979 Policy Interpretation. This test is used to determine whether students of both sexes are provided nondiscriminatory opportunities to participate in athletics.

December 11, 1979

  Title IX Policy Interpretation: Intercollegiate Athletics

The following Policy Interpretation represents the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare's interpretation of the intercollegiate athletic provisions of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and its implementing regulation. Title IX prohibits educational programs and institutions funded or otherwise supported by the Department from discriminating on the basis of sex. The Department published a proposed Policy Interpretation for public comment on December 11, 1978. Over 700 comments reflecting a broad range of opinion were received. In addition, HEW staff visited eight universities during June and July, 1979, to see how the proposed policy and other suggested alternatives would apply in actual practice at individual campuses. The final Policy Interpretation reflects the many comments HEW received and the results of the individual campus visits


  1975 Memorandum to Chief State School Officers, LEA Superintendents, and PSE Presidents on Title IX obligations in athletics, including athletic scholarships; intercollegiate, club, and intramural programs.

This memorandum provides guidance with respect to the major first year responsibilities of an educational institution to ensure equal opportunity in the operation of both its athletic activities and its athletic scholarship programs.

Last Modified: 02/08/2018