The Role of the Department of Education
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Education Department is charged with enforcing Title IX. If you know of a LGBT student who has been the victim of bullying, harassment, or discrimination in school, you should file a complaint with OCR today!
Learn more about the Department of Education here.
What will the Office for Civil Rights do?
OCR will investigate and attempt to resolve the complaint, provided it involves some form of bullying, harassment, or discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin or disability. When OCR finds that bullying, harassment, or discrimination has occurred, they work with the school to develop a voluntary agreement. Claims are often resolved by agreements requiring schools to adopt effective anti-bullying policies, staff and student trainings, address the incidents in question, and to take other steps to restore a nondiscriminatory environment.
In addition to resolving complaints by students and their parents, OCR takes steps to inform schools of their obligation to provide a nondiscriminatory environment. On January 19, 2001, OCR issued policy guidance that explained the legal principles requiring educational institutions that receive federal funds to take steps reasonably calculated to stop bullying, harassment, or discrimination when it occurs and prevent recurrence. On January 25, 2006, OCR also issued a "Dear Colleague" letter reminding recipients of the standards applicable to OCR's enforcement of compliance in cases raising sexual harassment issues.
OCR's field offices also engage in a variety of technical assistance activities in collaboration with state and local education and law enforcement agencies to encourage educational institutions to improve their anti-bullying policies and procedures and to assist students and their parents to work with schools to enhance the schools' anti-bullying capability.
In the extraordinarily rare instance that a voluntary resolution is not obtained, OCR has the power to suspend, terminate, or refuse to grant or continue to administer federal funding to the school. Additionally, the case may also be referred to the Department of Justice for judicial proceedings. In other words, legal action will be taken on your behalf by the Department of Justice in a court to determine and enforce your legal rights.
By filing a complaint you can help build safer schools for LGBT students and assist the government measure anti-LGBT bullying, harassment, and discrimination in our nation's schools. Only with your help can we help report, measure, and adequately address this epidemic that cripples our nationís schools.
What should I include in an Office for Civil Rights complaint?
When filing a complaint with OCR, consider whether the conduct at issue may be considered a form of sex discrimination under Title IX. When drafting a complaint, be sure to specify how the bullying, harassment, or discrimination was based on the "failure to conform to sex stereotypes," or how boys and girls are expected to act. It is critical to note that bullying, harassment, or discrimination faced by LGBT students often will include elements of both sexual orientation, gender identity or expression *and* sex discrimination, not to mention other bases like race, color, national origin or disability.
Additionally, if applicable, be sure to highlight ways the harassment may have been based on the perception that a student is too masculine or too feminine, participation in non-traditional extracurricular activities based on sex stereotypes, non-traditional dress or mannerism based on sex stereotypes, along with other things that are about sex stereotypes that donít necessarily address their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.
For more examples about "gender based harassment," please reference pages v, 3 and 7 of this Office of Civil Rights document .
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