Title IX Rights

What You Should Know

Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity in federally funded education programs or activities. Title IX addresses sexual harassment, sexual violence, or any gender-based discrimination that may deny a person access to educational benefits and opportunities.

Under Title IX, schools must ensure that all students and employees have equal access to education and educational facilities, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Sexual harassment and sexual violence are forms of gender discrimination that are prohibited by Title IX.

When a student or employee has experienced a hostile environment such sexual assault or severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive sexual harassment, schools must stop the discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects. This includes retaliation from other students, school administrators, or faculty.

Schools must proactively prevent and respond to claims of sexual harassment, sexual violence, and other forms of gender-based violence, retaliation, discrimination, and must have an impartial and prompt process for investigating and adjudicating reported cases.

2020 Title IX Updates

In May of 2020, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued new regulations mandating how colleges and universities must investigate and adjudicate sexual misconduct cases under Title IX, a federal statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex or gender in any federally funded education program or activity. In response, UF has updated its policies that address sexual-based misconduct accordingly.

What stayed the same?

UF strives to protect students, employees, and visitors from any form of sexual misconduct or gender-based harassment, including Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Exploitation, Stalking/Cyberstalking, Pregnancy Discrimination, and associated Retaliatory Actions. We will continue to address sexual misconduct and strive to eliminate any instance of it through a multi-various approach of sexual misconduct prevention education, healthy relationship modeling, and alcohol education in order to prevent harm from occurring, along with a multitude of support options if misconduct occurs.

What has changed in UF policies?

To meet the new law’s Aug. 14 compliance date, we created an Interim UF Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy a draft policy for this academic year to identify and outline the Title IX processes. This policy applies only to Title IX cases.

We are working on a comprehensive gender equity policy that covers all sexual misconduct or gender-based harassment and will share that policy with the campus community once it is ready. This policy will incorporate procedures for responding to all complaints of sexual and gender-based misconduct, discrimination, and harassment based on the protected classes set forth in UF’s non-discrimination policy.

What has changed because of the new Title IX rules?

If a case is within Title IX’s scope, the new regulations require a live hearing. For those hearings, each party must identify a hearing advisor who is able to directly question the other party and witnesses. Under the changes, if no advisor is selected by either party UF will appoint one to serve for the hearing.

The Title IX rule also provides that if a party or witness does not submit to questions by a hearing advisor, during that hearing, the decision-maker(s) cannot rely on any statement of that party or witness and cannot draw an inference from their nonparticipation.

How will the Interim Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy apply to current and new Title IX cases?

The Interim Title IX Sexual Harassment policy’s effective date was Aug. 14, 2020. The procedures in the draft policy will apply to reports the university receives as of the effective date. Investigations already underway prior to that date will continue to follow the procedures in place when the investigation was started.

What is next?

We will continue to engage further with students, faculty, and staff to share these policy changes and to cultivate community participation in the drafting of our institutional sexual misconduct prevention program. If you would like to learn more or to be a part of the conversation please connect with Jessica Baker, Engagement and Prevention Coordinator, at jcjess@ufl.edu.