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Sex Discrimination: Overview of the Law

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) 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 (Department) gives grants of financial assistance to schools and colleges and to certain other entities, including vocational rehabilitation programs and libraries.

In 1975, the Department’s predecessor, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, issued final regulations implementing Title IX. In 2020, the Department amended the Title IX regulations after public notice and comment. The Title IX regulations, which are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations at 34 CFR Part 106, are enforced by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

Examples of the types of discrimination that are covered under Title IX include sexual harassment; the failure to provide equal athletic opportunity; sex-based discrimination in a school’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses and programs; and discrimination based on pregnancy. A fuller list of Title IX issues OCR addresses appears here.

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

Links to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and its implementing regulation:

For additional information about the Department’s current Title IX regulations, please see OCR’s Questions and Answers resource and related appendix on the Title IX Regulations on Sexual Harassment. The Q&A clarifies how OCR interprets schools’ existing obligations under the current regulations, including the areas in which schools have discretion in their procedures for responding to reports of sexual harassment. The appendix provides examples of Title IX procedures that schools may find helpful in implementing the current regulations and can adapt to their own circumstances. Please also note that OCR issued a Letter to Students, Educators, and other Stakeholders re Victim Rights Law Center et al. v. Cardona (Aug. 24, 2021) addressing one provision of the current regulations.

In 2022 and 2023, the Department published two notices of proposed rulemaking to amend its Title IX regulations. On July 12, 2022, the Department published a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend its Title IX regulations with a 60-day comment period, which closed on September 12, 2022 (July 2022 NPRM). You can access the July 2022 NPRM and view submitted comments here, and you can find a fact sheet about the July 2022 NPRM here.

On April 13, 2023, the Department published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking to address sex-related eligibility criteria for male and female athletic teams under the Department’s Title IX regulations with a 30-day comment period, which closed on May 15, 2023 (Athletics NPRM). You can access the Athletics NPRM and view submitted comments here, and you can find a fact sheet about the Athletics NPRM here.

Following the Department’s review and consideration of the comments received on the proposed regulations, the resulting final regulations and their effective date will be published in the Federal Register. In addition, the preamble to the final regulations will include a summary of the comments received, the Department’s response to the comments, and an explanation of any changes made to the regulations that differ from the proposed regulations.

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Last Modified: 06/07/2023