Gender-based harassment now forbidden under Title IX of the Education Code

This week the Obama Administration sent a letter to around 15,000 school districts, as well as to colleges and universities that receive federal funding. The letter contained guidance about the school’s responsibilities for ending harassment and bullying. It also included concrete examples to help schools better understand and implement the law.

It is notable that the letter specifically mentions and rules that gender-based harassment, including that which targets transgender students, is forbidden under Title IX of the Education Code and this applies when LGBT students are targeted based on their gender expression:

“… it can be sex discrimination if students are harassed either for exhibiting what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic for their sex, or for failing to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity. Title IX also prohibits sexual harassment and gender-based harassment of all students, regardless of the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the harasser or target. Although Title IX does not prohibit discrimination based solely on sexual orientation, Title IX does protect all students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, from sex discrimination.”

The letter also addresses other forms of bullying, such as harassment based on race, religion and disability. The full letter can be read here.