Federal Guidance

Federal Agency definitions applicable to Title IX

Sex Discrimination - Disparate Treatment

Disparate treatment refers to actions that treat similarly situated persons differently on the basis of a prohibited classification. In the case of Title IX, the prohibited classification is sex. Disparate treatment is also referred to as "intentional," "purposeful," or "invidious" discrimination.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Title IX Legal Manual

Sex Discrimination - Disparate Impact

Disparate impact focuses on the consequences of an apparently sex-neutral policy or practice. Under this theory of discrimination, the core inquiry focuses on the results of the action taken, rather than the underlying intent.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Title IX Legal Manual

Sex Discrimination - Retaliation

Retaliation is an intentional adverse action taken against an individual for opposing sex discrimination.

Source: Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education, 544 U.S. 167 (2005). See U.S. Department of Education,  Office for Civil Rights, Dear Colleague Letter (April 24, 2013)

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature and can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, such as sexual assault or acts of sexual violence.

Source: Department of Justice and Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights Joint Findings Letter to the University of Montana (May 9, 2013)

Hostile Environment

If harassing conduct is sufficiently serious (sufficiently severe or pervasive) to deny or limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the school’s program based on sex then a hostile environment based on sex may exist.

Source: Department of Justice and Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights Joint Findings Letter to the University of Montana (May 9, 2013)

Gender-based harassment

Non-sexual harassment of a person because of the person’s sex and/or gender, including, but not limited to, harassment based on the person’s nonconformity with gender stereotypes.

Source: Department of Justice, Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, and the University of Montana Resolution Agreement (May 9, 2013)