Nine Things to Know About the 2022 Proposed Title IX Rules 

By Jackie Gharapour Wernz

On the Fiftieth anniversary of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the U.S. Department of Education released proposed amendments to the Title IX regulations. The rules are just a proposal—don’t go throwing out your current copy of the 2020 regs just yet! The earliest they will become effective would be in time for the 2023–2024 school year. When they do, they likely will include some changes from the proposed version.   

However, because the final rules that become effective likely will be similar to those proposed, it makes sense to familiarize yourself with them now. If you haven’t already, watch the Thompson & Horton free on-demand webinar, Title IX Double Take: A Side-by-Side Comparison of the Current and Proposed Title IX Rules, which provides a fast-paced and thorough side-by-side comparison between the current and proposed rules.

Keep reading here for a quick rundown of the nine top changes in the proposed rules!  

Biden OCR Issues Proposed Title IX Rule Drastically Changing Title IX Process for Schools on 50th Anniversary of Title IX

By Jackie Gharapour Wernz & Holly McIntush

The long awaited proposed Title IX regulation from the Biden administration’s U.S. Department of Education was released today, on the 50th anniversary of Title IX. You can find the proposed rule here. As expected, the proposed rule includes provisions that, if they become law, would drastically change the process schools, colleges, and universities use to address Title IX sexual harassment reports. The current process is from the Trump administration’s Title IX rule, which has been in effect for less than two years. Among other things, the proposed rule would grant explicit legal protections to LGBTQI+ students, replace the “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” definition for a hostile environment with a lower “severe or pervasive” standard, and remove the requirement that a formal complaint be signed or filed to initiate the complaint process.

What They Don’t Know Might Hurt You: Avoiding the Negative Impact of Journalistic Rushes to Judgment on Your Title IX Process 

By Jackie Gharapour Wernz

The renowned journalist and activist Ida B. Wells once said, “The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press.”  

Today, however, journalism is quite different from before the turn of the century. Almost any story can be published, with no requirement that the writer understands, let alone includes, the full context of the issue. “Stories” sometimes “break” on social media threads, with no author or editor in sight to control unfettered opinions from being mistaken for “news.” And even in more established publications, the desire to offer the most sensationalistic coverage in the shortest amount of time creates an environment in which presenting the whole picture is often not the goal.  

The result in situations involving Title IX can be disastrous for schools, colleges, and universities. News outlets, bloggers, and social media posters present an incomplete and often inaccurate account of the Title IX process to your community. The results can range from a turnover churn of Title IX administrators (with recent reporting suggesting two-thirds of Title IX coordinators have been in their position for more than three years) to bomb threats 

What are the risks, and how can your school district, college, or university defend against or deal with such an incident? 

Playing Prime Time or Stuck on a Broken-Down Bus? Are Your High School Athletics Programs Providing Equal Benefits under Title IX?

By Jackie Wernz, Adam Rothey, Matt Reed, and Kendra Yoch

Historically, K-12 athletics have taken a back seat to collegiate athletics when it comes Title IX enforcement, whether in the form of private litigation or investigations by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”).  More recently, however, we are seeing an emerging focus on Title IX enforcement in high school athletics, and specifically allegations that female teams are receiving unequal benefits compared to their male counterparts. Is your district in compliance? An internal review can help ensure equal opportunities and benefits for your athletes and avoid costly disputes. Here’s what to look for.

The #2 Tip for the Title IX Jurisdiction Analysis: Take Cross-Claims Seriously

In another blog post today, I talk about the many takeaways Title IX administrators and team members can glean about Title IX cases from the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard defamation trial. One of those takeaways deserves a closer look; it is the second tip for the Title IX jurisdiction analysis in our blog series addressing some of the most fundamental questions that arise during the Title IX sexual harassment intake process. Here’s what you need to know about cross-claims by respondents.

Top Three Title IX Lessons From the Depp/Heard Defamation Trial

The recent Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial felt a bit like a black hole; no matter how hard I tried to pull away, the gravity eventually sucked me in. My reasons for wanting to stay away were simple: As an attorney and an expert in Title IX matters, I know how vital impartiality is in deciding these challenging cases. As a working parent and spouse, I knew I would not have the time or energy to watch every hour of testimony and review every piece of evidence. I knew it would be difficult not to base any opinions I might form about the case on my own biases and prejudices under those circumstances, particularly with the onslaught of media opinions on both sides. So best to stay away, I thought, if I can.

I couldn’t. In the end, I read many articles, watched some footage, and even listened to a few podcasts on the trial. I still do not believe I am in a position to make any of the many sweeping claims that the media and advocates on both sides of the aisle have made about the verdict. But the case does provide some important takeaways and practice tips for Title IX administrators. Here are the top three, in my opinion.