This summer U.S. Department of Education unveiled its long-awaited regulatory proposal changes on Title IX. The proposed changes, the Department said in a statement, are intended to, “restore crucial protections for students who are victims of sexual harassment, assault, and sex-based discrimination – a critical safety net for survivors that was weakened under previous regulations." As of September 2022, the proposed regulation had over 240,000 public comments submitted in the Federal Registrar prior to its comment deadline, according to Politico. To review the sheer number of comments experts say will take months and may set up a legal, litigation battle in the months and years to come and leading experts to believe the final rule will not be published until late spring or early summer 2023. The Department of Education hasn’t given any indication though on when the final rule will be published. This, as the landmark regulation celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.
To protect the rights of LGBTQI+ students, the Department is proposing that amendments include clarifying text that includes protections against discrimination based on sexual or gender identity. As the Department stated, “They would make clear that preventing someone from participating in school programs and activities consistent with their gender identity would cause harm in violation of Title IX, except in some limited areas set out in the statute or regulation.” In particular, this means trans identifying individuals and students will be protected by Title IX. In addition, this language would require institutions to provide reasonable modifications for pregnant students. The proposed regulation makes it clear that prejudice against a student’s sexual or gender identity could violate Title IX, a big step from the Department of Education. These protections also extend to protection against sex-based harassment that “creates a hostile environment by denying or limiting a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from a school’s education program or activity.”
Enhanced Campus Sexual Misconduct Enforcement
Institutions will once again be required to provide safeguards and protections for victims of sexual assault or harassment, a reversal of the May 2020 Title IX changes that were made in order to create a “more reliable adjudication process.” The updated proposal includes language intended to protect victims of sexual assault and violence that includes all “unwelcome sex-based conduct that creates a hostile environment by denying or limiting a person's ability to participate in or benefit from a school's education program or activity.” The changes made under DeVos many critics said tamped down on these protections, yet they will remain in place until the new regulation is approved. The current regulation only requires education institutions to investigate formal sexual harassment complaints.
Prompt Response to Complaints and Live Hearings
The proposal not only broadens the definition of sexual misconduct and discrimination, but also requires schools to respond promptly to all complaints with a “fair and reliable process.” This changes outline requirements from how a case might be processed to how those involved with the case must have “no conflict of interest or bias” and gives institutions the options to have a live hearing for evaluating evidence. In previous iterations of Title IX, a live hearing was required and was a cornerstone of the current rule where accusers and accused students sit before a panel of decision-makers. Critics of the rule have said this process has often dissuaded survivors from coming forward and reporting because it can re-traumatize individuals and pose undue stress and was seen as a mini courtroom. The proposed changes would get rid of the mandated live hearings.
No matter what changes occur in the months to come, Symplicity Advocate is the trusted solution for student conduct, Title IX, and behavioral intervention. As changes are made, Advocate continues to update to support client needs and changing policy. Advocate allows users to streamline cases management reporting, detect and address students concerns proactively, consolidate data for key data in real-time to help with key decision-making, and allow for you to create a workflow to route cases based on the type of case, the student involved, or any other information needed. This streamlined system can help community colleges save both money and time by removing the need for storage, shredding, and training staff on how to intake. You can instead record, track, and train all within the Advocate platform.
New Title IX regulations will require student conduct offices to put in places systems that are easily manageable and effective. Symplicity Advocate helps institutions avoid liability issues by ensuring compliance with DOE and OCR.