Instas, Snaps, Yik Yaks, and Sex: When Is a Post Title IX Sexual Harassment?

The issue comes up all too frequently—a student shows up to an administrator’s office to report that they found something terrible about them online. Sometimes it’s sexually harassing language and bullying. Or it’s a person sharing photos or videos of their ex online after a breakup. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, perhaps it’s an account on which people can anonymously “expose” accused perpetrators of sexual harassment, including sexual violence and assault—and the alleged perpetrators report that it’s just not true. How do educational leaders distinguish between sexual harassment and more benign activity on Instagram, Snapchat, (the newly reemerging) Yik Yak, and the like?

OCR Blog Post Stands By May 2022 Date for New Rules

On October 8, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education issued a blog post, “Our Commitment to Education Environments Free from Sex-Based Harassment, Including Sexual Violence.” The blog post comes on the heels of meetings between the administration and at least one advocacy group asking the administration to move more quickly on new Title IX regulations. OCR declined, standing by its plan to issue new proposed regulations in May 2022.

Hit the Brakes: Stop, Drop, and Title IX When You Hear “Sex”

We have been living with the 2020 Title IX regulations for well over a year, but some basics continue to trip us up. One of the biggest for primary and secondary schools is helping building-level administrators remember to hit the brakes when they learn of sex-based misconduct. Rushing to collect statements, impose consequences (even temporary ones), and collect other evidence could lead to a Title IX violation if the conduct ends up being covered by the law. For this reason, in my opinion, if a school system does one thing this fall to address Title IX, training building-level admins and employees to stop, drop, and call the Title IX office as soon as they learn of any conduct based on sex.

Appeal in VLRC v. Cardona Raising More Questions About Suppressing Statements of Missing Witnesses in Title IX Hearings

A little over a month ago, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) said it would no longer enforce a controversial portion of the 2020 Title IX rules. The “suppression clause” is a ban on reliance on statements by a party or witness who does not submit to cross-examination in higher education Title IX sexual harassment hearings. The 2020 Title IX regulations require that higher education decision-makers ignore all statements by any party or witness who refuses to answer even one relevant question during the required hearing for Title IX sexual harassment complaints. The rules leave room for K-12 decision-makers to decide whether to reject all statements by a party or witness who refuses to answer written cross-examination questions used in elementary and secondary school Title IX processes. After a Massachusetts Federal trial court struck down