March 23, 2023 | Title IX
Many people mistakenly believe that Title IX only applies to physical actions, such as sexual assault and rape. However, the federal antidiscrimination law also applies to sexual harassment, which includes cyber-stalking and other forms of online harassment.
This makes sense; after all, one of the primary purposes of Title IX is to foster a safe and supportive environment for individuals in educational settings. And most educational institutions today use online platforms to offer classes, encourage student discussions, and send communications.
Federal and state law has evolved to account for these advances in technology – meaning certain online activities may result in a violation of Title IX.
What Is Title IX?
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 makes it unlawful for any educational institutions, activities, or programs that receive federal funding to discriminate on the basis of sex.
The law was originally implemented to address inequalities in postsecondary institutions when women were being denied access to sports programs and other male-dominated activities. However, it has expanded to protect people against sexual misconduct and harassment.
Accordingly, federally-funded universities and colleges must provide all students equal access to activities and opportunities. They must also take reasonable steps to protect students and others on campus from sexual harassment and violence – including promptly responding to complaints.
The idea is that when students are sexually harassed, assaulted, bullied, or discriminated against, they are denied equal access to the program they’re participating in. This type of conduct can significantly interfere with someone’s educational experience and ability to enjoy and engage in sports and other activities.
Current Title IX Regulations for Online Activity
The Department of Education recently released guidance regarding Title IX as it relates to online harassment. When the regulations were amended in 2020, they broadened the definition of sexual harassment to include unwelcome sexual conduct, including stalking.
Stalking is conduct that would cause a reasonable person to feel unsafe, fear for another’s safety, or suffer substantial emotional distress. Under current guidelines, that includes online stalking (cyber-stalking) based on sex when it occurs in an education program or activity.
An example of when online sexual harassment may deny a student equal access to an educational program is if it causes them to skip class to avoid the harasser.
Additionally, the guidelines specifically state that an educational program or activity doesn’t distinguish between sexual harassment occurring in person or online.
Even a student using a personal cell phone during class to harass another student online may fall under the scope of Title IX. The question is whether the school exercised “substantial control” over the harasser under the circumstances. As with in-person sexual harassment, it will always be a fact-based analysis.
What Should I Do If I’m Accused of Violating Title IX in Ohio?
Many types of conduct can fall under Title IX. If you find yourself facing Title IX allegations, it’s essential to speak with an attorney to discuss what happened and your legal rights.
Every accused person has the right to due process, meaning you’re entitled to notice of the accusations against you and have a chance to be heard. You must also be treated fairly throughout the process, which often doesn’t happen.
Educational institutions frequently fail to provide the impartiality that they should. They are often hostile to people accused of sexual misconduct and automatically side with the complainant.
Retaining an experienced Cincinnati Title IX attorney may be the difference between having the complaint dismissed or facing harsh consequences, like expulsion. A lawyer will ensure that your college or university follows its policies and procedures and treats you fairly throughout the investigation.
If your Title IX matter requires a hearing, your lawyer will represent you and call witnesses to testify on your behalf. They’ll ensure that the hearing is fair and help you with an appeal if necessary.
Contact a Cincinnati Title IX Lawyer If You’ve Been Accused of Online Harassment
Even if you believe you’re innocent, it’s wise to consult an experienced Title IX attorney to discuss your situation. Title IX accusations are often accompanied by criminal charges. An attorney will advocate for you in both matters and protect your reputation and freedom.
Contact an experienced Title IX attorney in Cincinnati for a free consultation to get the help you need.
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Cincinnati
600 Vine Street, Suite 1004
Cincinnati, OH 45202