LOCALIZE IT: Finding Title IX stories and information

Via AP news wire
Monday 13 June 2022 16:28 BST


Title IX, the landmark piece of U.S. legislation that was meant to ensure equity between men and women in education, turns 50 on June 23. The law states: “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.”

Title IX covers elementary, secondary and post-secondary education institutions that receive federal funding — in other words, most K-12 schools and colleges and universities — as well as vocational schools, libraries and museums.

The law applies to myriad facets of education: athletics, the classroom, sexual assault and violence on campus, financial assistance with tuition, employment and retaliation. It also extends to other forms of gender and sex discrimination; Title IX was invoked when the Obama administration advised that transgender people should be allowed ot use the bathroom of their choice in schools.

This means there’s no shortage to the stories your newsroom can do for the anniversary. Here is a guide to help localize your coverage, which could run alongside AP's Title IX content planned through June 23. Find the entire package on the Title IX hub on AP Newsroom.


To find out whether there are current federal Title IX investigations happening at schools in your state or region, click on “sex discrimination” at this Office for Civil Rights website: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/investigations/open-investigations/tix.html?perPage=1000.

There, you will be able to sort by state and type of discrimination under Title IX, which ranges from athletics to sexual violence to single-sex campus programs. In order to obtain details about the investigation, beyond the date that it was opened, you must submit a Freedom of Information Act request at https://foiaxpress.pal.ed.gov/app/Home.aspx. Please note that FOIA requests may take weeks or months to be returned.


Every school and college is supposed to have at least one Title IX coordinator, whose function is to make sure the institution is in compliance with all arms of Title IX. Sometimes the officer is simply the school's principal, while many universities have whole offices dedicated to Title IX compliance.

You should be able to search the website of a school or district to find the coordinator’s name, or you could call to find out that information. The coordinator can help you better understand how schools find and rectify Title IX violations on their own, deal with federal investigations and make changes to continue to comply with the law as it evolves.

More information about Title IX coordinators’ duties can be found here: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/rights/guid/ocr/title-ix-coordinators.html

You can also find experts on Title IX compliance through the Association of Title IX Administrators: https://www.atixa.org/


Important note: Identifying a Title IX violation in athletics isn’t as easy as looking at the budget for a women’s sport and comparing it to the same/equivalent men’s sport. Athletic departments work under what’s known as “equal in effect,” meaning a benefit for one sex in something like uniforms/equipment can be offset by a different benefit, such as transportation, as long as “the overall effects of any differences is negligible.” This area can end up being disputed in court.


— Each college must provide on an annual basis Equity in Athletics Data Analysis reports that track athletics participation, coaching staff and salaries, revenues and expenses (including recruiting and game-day expenses) and supplemental information. To find data for your local college, go to ope.ed.gov/athletics/#/, where you can also compare data for several schools and get trend data.

— For more detailed data at public universities, like itemized budget and expenses breakdowns, you likely must to file a public records request.

Resources/people to talk to:

— At a national level, Nancy Hogshead-Makar with Champion Women is a Title IX expert and involved with many of the Title IX athletic lawsuits. She keeps a database of EADA information — which can help determine whether a school has equal participation opportunities for men and women — as well as legal letters that have been sent about possible Title IX violations to conferences. That database can be found at titleixschools.com/2022/01/23/eada-data. (Note: Hogshead-Makar has written and tweeted about transgender athletes in recent months, including an editorial for Swimming World that says “there is nothing fair” about transgender athlete Lia Thomas competing in NCAA swimming.)

— At a regional level, if you know there has been a lawsuit filed against a university, reach out to the lawyer listed for the plaintiffs, or to the plaintiffs themselves.

— Women who are coaches at all levels, but especially at the collegiate level, likely played sports themselves, often at a time when either Title IX didn’t exist or wasn’t as well-enforced. Their perspectives on what has changed and how they try to keep their schools in compliance would be valuable.

Questions to ask:

— Many Title IX athletics disputes deal with what’s known as the participation gap. Athletic departments must make sure the ratio of men’s athletic participation opportunities to women’s participation opportunities are “substantially proportionate” to a school’s undergrad enrollment. This is a place to look for potential violations and stories about violations. USA Today recently wrote about the participation gap in some depth.

— Has there been an unequal amount paid to coaches for men’s teams vs. women’s teams? Is there an unbalanced coaching staff between men’s and women’s teams? Is the amount spent on recruiting out of whack?

— Ask athletes about meals, housing, access to mental health, equipment, facilities and travel and how it compares to other teams in the athletics department or at the high school.

— Interview the Title IX coordinator for your local school or college on the latest challenges they are facing or the progress they have seen.

— At a high school level or below, talk to coaches to find out whether they’re taught about Title IX rules and regulations before taking the helm of a team, and whether they’re encouraged to come forward with possible violations.


Title IX’s protections extend to sexual harassment and discrimination on campus, and the definition of sexual harassment includes dating violence, domestic violence and stalking. Discrimination involves everything from students discriminating against other students, as well as students/staff or staff/staff, and also covers discrimination against pregnant people.

— This Department of Education website explains what is defined as sexual harassment on campus and what students are entitled to: https://sites.ed.gov/titleix/policy/

— For federal training materials about sexual harassment and sexual violence: https://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/safe-place-to-learn-k12

— For full details of sex discrimination under Title IX: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/rights/guid/ocr/sexoverview.html or https://www.venturacollege.edu/college-information/about-ventura-college/title-ix/definitions

— Government information regarding the rights of LGBTQ students under Title IX: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/lgbt.html

Questions to ask schools and universities:

— Who is trained to identify and report sexual harassment? Who isn’t but should be/will be? What are the steps that are taken when sexual harassment is reported?

— What does the mediation process look like for sexual harassment and assault claims?

— Have there been complaints settled surrounding LBGTQ discrimination? Was it a one-time situation, or is it an ongoing issue at the school?


— Poynter has a free, self-directed online course for journalists about Title IX that details the process at universities and also offers suggestions on how to report on Title IX violations. https://www.poynter.org/shop/ethics/understanding-title-ix/


Localize It is an occasional feature produced by The Associated Press for its customers’ use. Questions can be directed to Ted Anthony at tanthony@ap.org

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