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Sex Discrimination: Overview of the Law

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. Title IX states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance[.]” All federal agencies that provide grants of financial assistance are required to enforce Title IX’s nondiscrimination mandate. The U.S. Department of Education gives grants of financial assistance to schools and colleges and to certain other entities, including vocational rehabilitation programs and libraries, and has responsibility for enforcing Title IX in those settings.

In 1975, the Department’s predecessor, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, issued final regulations implementing Title IX. Since then, the Department has amended the Title IX regulations several times to address single-sex classes, 71 Fed. Reg. 62,530 (Oct. 25, 2006), and, in May 2020, to address sexual harassment, including sexual violence, as well as other topics under Title IX. 85 Fed. Reg. 30,026 (May 19, 2020).

The Title IX regulations, which are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations at 34 CFR Part 106, is enforced by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights. In furtherance of President Biden’s Executive Order on Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity, Exec. Order 14021, 86 Fed. Reg. 13,803 (March 11, 2021), OCR convened a virtual public hearing on Title IX and issued a Questions and Answers resource on the Title IX regulations on sexual harassment. After completing its review of the Department’s current Title IX regulations and other agency actions, OCR anticipates publishing in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend the Department’s Title IX regulations.

Examples of the types of discrimination that are covered under Title IX include sexual harassment; the failure to provide equal athletic opportunities; unequal access to educational resources (such as STEM or career and technical education); discriminatory discipline; discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity; and discrimination based on pregnancy.

Title IX also prohibits retaliation for filing an OCR complaint or for advocating for a right protected by Title IX. Discrimination based on sex in employment also violates Title IX. However, employment discrimination complaints filed with OCR are generally referred to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Below are links to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and its implementing regulations:

For more information on Title IX, please visit OCR's Frequently Asked Questions on Sex Discrimination. For the most recent updates, please visit OCR’s News Room or Blog.

If you have questions or require technical assistance, please contact

Last Modified: 08/20/2021