Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program or activity that receives federal funding. Title IX addresses sexual harassment, sexual violence, or any gender-based discrimination that may deny a student access to educational benefits and opportunities. Furthermore, all students regardless of gender identity are protected under Title IX.
Title IX protections are particularly critical because given the high rate of sexual violence against people with disabilities, these students are vulnerable to violence and require the necessary resources in order to continue their education.
Understanding the intersection of disability and sexual violence is important because survivors often develop a disability after having a traumatic experience. and require counseling services immediately after an assault. Sexual violence can significantly hinder a student’s ability to remain in school. All students deserve to thrive in school and are should be provided the necessary means to excel.
Some resources that assist students to stay in school and are guaranteed to survivors with disabilities under Title IX are:
Counseling and medical services
Academic adjustments such as dropping classes without penalty or taking an incomplete
Academic assistance such as tutoring, additional time for tests, or extended deadlines
Recent conversations around Title IX guidance has left many students and survivors concerned about their protections and rights on campus. To clarify, schools are still required to ensure an equal access to education to all students regardless of ability or gender identity. September 22nd, the Department of Education rescinded previous 2011 Dear Colleague Guidance and replaced with much looser guidelines which will allow schools to continue to violate students’ rights with impunity.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life such as in schools, employment, and other public and private spaces open to the public. The ADA ensures that people with disabilities have equal rights, opportunities, and access to public institutions. People with disabilities are more vulnerable to sexual violence than other student populations in school. Title IX and Title II can be applied in tandem to provide additional support to survivors with disabilities.
Title II of the ADA ensures that students with disabilities cannot be denied equal access to education, in both public and private schools. Under Title II, schools and universities are required to provide necessary accommodations for students to learn and be able to participate in all educational activities.
Some examples are:
Using auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication
Providing ramps and wheelchair accessible classrooms
Adjusting class assignments and projects for those who may have medical or mental health problems that makes group assignments or deadlines difficult
Altering work schedules to accommodate a person’s disability
Title II is particularly useful for survivors with disabilities because collectively it can be used to assist survivors who developed disabilities after an assault and provide accommodations to students. Additionally, Title I of the ADA ensures nondiscriminatory practices in employment, including work study jobs on campus. Although the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) does not enforce Title I, it can be used collectively with Title IX including sexual harassment in the workplace. Additionally, Title I could be applied to make the appropriate adjustments for students with disabilities in employment, especially after an assault.
Although these are just a few protections that are currently in place, Trump’s administration has signaled massive rollbacks of basic human rights, including different aspects of the ADA. While it is currently unknown what will happen with the HR 620 bill, which would make enforcing and suing businesses that do not comply with the ADA. Although conversations around the bill have focused on non compliance with businesses, there is no telling if the current administration would continue these rollbacks of civil rights to include educational institutions or other cuts to accessibility to public and private entities. For more information on the ADA, its requirements, and potential changes to the federal law, please visit here.