Let’s Talk About Title IX

Written by Claire Davison

As recent as 49 years ago, high school STEM classes and sports teams looked drastically different; there were no female students or players. Up until 1972, there weren’t equal opportunities for students in the STEM field, athletics, and extracurriculars. Schools like Woodgrove are now gender-inclusive and prohibit sex-based discrimination; this is all thanks to Title IX. 

The Title IX policy states that, “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.” 

This policy protects a student’s right to have a learning environment free from gender-based discrimination, sexual harrassment, and violence. For example, there is both a boys and girls Woodgrove basketball team, and there are policies that prohibit sexual harassment on campus. Without Title IX, rules like these would not exist. 

Title IX plays a crucial role in the safety of students and staff, but it is overlooked by many high school students. To demonstrate this point, 35 out of 44 highschool students said they did not know what Title IX was. 

9 Things to Know About Title IX

Woodgrove sophomore Celia Hart thinks it’s “extremely important” that students and parents understand Title IX. When asked why some students might not know or care about Title IX, Hart says, “ I think some students may not care because they know their sex is traditionally found and sought after within the activity or sport they participate in, so they don’t really have to worry about being excluded or discriminated against.” 

All public schools systems are required to have a Title IX coordinator; someone whose job is to monitor Title IX regulations and handle complaints. They also work to prevent sex-based discrimination and harrassment by overseeing staff and student training.  

 “As with any policy, students and parents should be aware of prohibited conduct and their avenues for addressing it,” says Loudoun County’s Title IX coordinator, Dr. Mark Smith. 

Not only does Title IX prohibit sex-based discrimination, it also addresses sexual harrassment and violence. It is critical in the process of reporting and carrying out a sexual violence complaint. The policy protects survivors of sexual violence by providing support and security, and prohibits retalition becuase of a complaint or report. 

“If a student believes there is a violation of any policy, they should report it to an adult at school. Title IX outlines that any school or district employee with actual knowledge of sexual harassment or misconduct must report it immediately,” says Smith. 

Stop Sexual Assault In Schools (SSAIS) is a non-profit organization that addresses sexual violence in K-12 schools and provides prevention and education resources to schools, parents and survivors. They advocate for student rights and defend Title IX. SSAIS youth board member Ana Baxter says, “SSAIS is composed of teenagers, adults, and survivors, but most importantly, we are a family and we respond to all individuals seeking help.” 

“High school students should care about Title IX because it impacts everyone. It forbids discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation, which includes peer-to-peer sexual harassment, sexual harassment by school staff, and sexual assault of all types,” says Baxter. 

When asked what she would say to any sexual assault or harrassment survivor reading this, Baxter says, “You are strong and brave, and fearless. You are a warrior who doesn’t fight alone. Just know that I believe in you.” A quote that helps Baxter persevere is, “You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage.” – Sexual Assault Survivor, Alex Elle

 

Resources for readers: 

If you have a concern regarding Title IX, please go to LCPS’s Title IX page and/or contact Dr. Mark Smith ([email protected]

If you would like to get involved with SSAIS, visit their website 

If you need support regarding sexual violence: Woodgrove Counseling website

Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter or use the hotline 703-777-6552

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visit their website