Title IX

Past and Present College Athletes Sue NCAA Over Transgender Participation Rules

March 29, 2024

By Kristen J. Thorsness and Seth F. Gilbertson

Only about .007% of athletes who complete in NCAA sports are transgender. However, this group has attracted an outsized amount of social, media, regulatory and now litigant, attention. Under National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules dating to January 2022, transgender female athletes may compete in women’s events if the national governing body for the specific sport allows transgender athletes to compete.

Read More >> Past and Present College Athletes Sue NCAA Over Transgender Participation Rules

Department of Education Announces Delay in Release of New Title IX Regulations

May 26, 2023

By Philip J. Zaccheo

The United States Department of Education announced today a delay in the anticipated date for release of its Final Rule setting forth revised Title IX regulations. The Department had previously advised that the Final Rule would be released during the month of May, but now anticipates publication in October.

Read More >> Department of Education Announces Delay in Release of New Title IX Regulations

Hot Topics in Title IX Athletics: Recent Cases about Title IX Compliance in Athletics

April 24, 2023

By Kristen J. Thorsness

In the past six months, the federal courts have addressed some novel issues about what is a “sport” under Title IX, as well as questions of standing, retaliation, financial aid, class certification and Title IX’s equitable opportunities and benefits requirements. These cases reflect that the landscape of Title IX continues to change and requires careful attention to ensure that your school or institution does not inadvertently drift into Title IX violation.

Read More >> Hot Topics in Title IX Athletics: Recent Cases about Title IX Compliance in Athletics

Hot Topics in Title IX Athletics: Transgender Athletes

April 19, 2023

By Kristen J. Thorsness

Although transgender athletes have been competing for many years – recall Renee Richards playing professional women’s tennis in the 1970’s – the participation of trans-female athletes has recently resurfaced as a sensational headline topic. The Trump and Biden administrations took polar opposite positions and federal courts have issued conflicting rulings on this issue, which appears headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read More >> Hot Topics in Title IX Athletics: Transgender Athletes

Hot Topics in Title IX Athletics: Does Having Separate Classifications for “Major” and “Minor” Sports Violate Title IX?

April 17, 2023

By Kristen J. Thorsness

It is a common practice in collegiate athletics to separate teams in two or more “tiers” of “major” and “minor” or “revenue” and “non-revenue” sports. Tiering may not be explicitly intended by administrators, but informal tiering is relatively common by virtue of emphasizing some teams over others. While tiering is not per se a violation of Title IX, it must be organized properly to avoid violations.

Read More >> Hot Topics in Title IX Athletics: Does Having Separate Classifications for “Major” and “Minor” Sports Violate Title IX?

OCR Issues New Guidance on the Application of Title IX in Higher Education Athletics

March 10, 2023

By Kristen J. Thorsness and Connor Johnson

Introduction 

In February 2023, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a resource to the higher education community reiterating some of the core concepts it uses to evaluate whether institutions are providing equal athletic opportunities consistent with Title IX. For colleges and universities, this new resource should serve as a not-so-subtle prompt to review their programs for compliance with applicable standards. 

Read More >> OCR Issues New Guidance on the Application of Title IX in Higher Education Athletics

Recent Cases Demonstrate the Need for Caution When Disciplining Students

December 8, 2022

By James E. McGrath, III

Two cases were decided at the end of November 2022 concerning institutions of higher education disciplining students for alleged misconduct.

In Matter of Mozdziak v. SUNY Maritime, 2022 NY Slip Op 06759 (Nov. 29, 2022), the New York State Appellate Division, First Department overruled the State University of New York Maritime College’s determination, which had affirmed its disciplinary hearing board’s expulsion of a student upon findings that he engaged in misconduct. The student was alleged to have carved a racial epithet into a dormitory elevator door. Two students made a joint, unsworn written statement alleging that they had witnessed the student engage in this misconduct. Notwithstanding that these two students who wrote the statement did not testify at the hearing, their two-sentence statement was credited over actual alibi witnesses who testified that the student was elsewhere when the claimed misconduct occurred.

Read More >> Recent Cases Demonstrate the Need for Caution When Disciplining Students

New OCR Fact Sheet Reiterates that Terminating a Pregnancy is Protected Under Title IX

October 6, 2022

By Seth F. Gilbertson

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a “Fact Resource” on Oct. 4, 2022 reaffirming legal authority that Title IX protects both students and employees from discrimination based upon pregnancy and related conditions. While the new resource is broadly worded, the timing and presentation suggests that it is intended to signal an enforcement agenda targeted toward the protection of abortion rights for students and employees of educational institutions.

Read More >> New OCR Fact Sheet Reiterates that Terminating a Pregnancy is Protected Under Title IX

Department of Education Releases Proposed Changes to Title IX Regulations

June 24, 2022

By Seth F. Gilbertson, Laura H. Harshbarger, and Philip J. Zaccheo

Announcing it as a commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the enactment of Title IX (though anticipated for the past 18 months), the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) announced sweeping proposed amendments to the Title IX regulatory scheme that went into effect less than two years ago.

Read More >> Department of Education Releases Proposed Changes to Title IX Regulations

Office for Civil Rights Faults College for Failing to Accommodate a Pregnant Student

June 16, 2022

By Seth F. Gilbertson and Paige M. Roseman

A recent finding by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) that a college failed to accommodate a pregnant student is a pointed reminder of the obligation of colleges and universities to fully and carefully address accommodation requests from pregnant students. 

Read More >> Office for Civil Rights Faults College for Failing to Accommodate a Pregnant Student

Implications for Colleges and Universities of Expanded Legal Protections for LGBTQ+ Students, Faculty and Staff

October 25, 2021

By Barbara A. Lee, Ph.D. and Megan L. Anderson, Lathrop GPM

In its Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia ruling in June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the prohibition on “sex” discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 encompasses discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The Bostock ruling raised, but did not decide, the question of whether or not other federal sex discrimination laws, such as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Fair Housing Act, might also inherently prohibit LGBTQ+ discrimination. While the Bostock ruling applies only to Title VII claims, the Biden administration has announced that federal agencies will apply Bostock’s definition of “sex” to other federal civil rights laws. On the day he was inaugurated, Jan. 20, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order stating that federal sex discrimination laws besides Title VII – including Title IX and the Fair Housing Act – should be interpreted as prohibiting gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination. Subsequently, in June 2021, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) issued guidance that Title IX prohibits LGBTQ+ discrimination. In addition, in February 2021, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it would enforce the sex discrimination provisions of the Fair Housing Act as encompassing LGBTQ+ discrimination.

Read More >> Implications for Colleges and Universities of Expanded Legal Protections for LGBTQ+ Students, Faculty and Staff

Assessing the Evolving Impact of Victim Rights Law Center et al v. Cardona on College and University Title IX Procedures

October 5, 2021

By Philip J. Zaccheo

It has been over two months since the federal District Court’s July 28, 2021 decision in Victim Rights Law Center et al v. Cardona vacating the section of the United States Department of Education’s 2020 Title IX Final Rule that precluded postsecondary institutions from considering any statement made by a party or witness who does not submit to cross examination at a live adjudicatory hearing. Since the decision, institutions have sought to assess its impact on their processes for adjudicating allegations of sexual harassment, including the possibility of changes to eliminate this preclusion requirement from their procedures.

Read More >> Assessing the Evolving Impact of Victim Rights Law Center et al v. Cardona on College and University Title IX Procedures