Schools say they do not tolerate sexual harassment. A lawyer for education issues like Greg Smith can advise clients that if schools do tolerate it, they will be liable in court to the victim. His case of this Fairfield County high school shows it.

Most assaults by another student take place in middle school, but they can occur as early as kindergarten. Abuse means verbal, physical or visual harassment relating to gender, sexual violence, such as rape, sexual assault, sexual battery and sexual coercion.

To fulfill their responsibilities to students and staff, schools must clearly communicate their policies regarding sexual harassment. They must promptly investigate reported incidents. They must take steps to prevent incidents from recurring. And they must address harassment’s effects on the victim. As soon as they learn of harassment, officials must investigate. The Title IX Coordinator must offer the victim the chance to file a complaint. Officials must report to the victim the results of their investigation. If they found that pervasive harassment created a hostile environment, they must explain the steps they will take to end the hostility and prevent its happening again. They may have to teach the whole community — again — about how to prevent it.

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A lawyer for education issues knows that Title IX prohibits any public school, college or university from discriminating on the basis of sex. It protects students — male and female — from all forms of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and gender discrimination. A school’s grievance procedures must include adequate, reliable, and impartial investigation of complaints, including the opportunity for both the complainant and alleged perpetrator to present witnesses and evidence.

This process must be fair and equitable. That means, for example, that the school must corroborate the complainant’s accusations. It means the school must show the touching was unwelcome. Most importantly, it means the school must prove harassment by a preponderance of the evidence.At the same time, if a school fails to investigate accusations, or deliberately remains indifferent to them, the victim has the right under Title IX to hold the school accountable.

If you think your child is the victim of sexual harassment the school ignored, call lawyer for education issues Greg Smith. As a Connecticut Title IX attorney he will listen for how the details of your son or daughter’s experience fits within the law. If he finds that you have legal options, he will advise you on the best course of action. If relevant, as a Title IX lawyer he can advise you on working with state and federal agencies that help parents take action regarding sexual harassment without actually going to court. Acting as your counsel, he can ensure that grievances reported to the school carry the weight of legal authority and that the school upholds its legal duty to stop harassment and support those who were harmed.

As of today schools in Connecticut will not violate Title IX if they tell transgender students to use the bathroom of the sex they were born with.

Title IX itself says nothing about the choice. Starting in 1972 it simply outlawed discrimination “on the basis of sex.” A regulation later added only that public schools must offer separate bathrooms, lockers and showers. No authority ever made clear who should use which ones.

President Obama tried to. In 2015 an official in his administration wrote that “on the basis of sex” meant schools must let each student choose, not by their biological sex but by the one with which they identified. A year later Obama’s departments of Education and Justice jointly and formally announced they held to the same interpretation of Title IX’s phrase. This swayed some people. In April 2016 a federal appeals court in Virginia ruled that a high school had to let a transgender student born a girl use the boys’ bathroom. It decided that “on the basis of sex” was ambiguous and could be interpreted however the President wished. Others disagreed. In August a different federal court, in Texas, took the opposite stance. It held that the phrase was not ambiguous. Obama could not tell schools to read it his way.

With a new President came a new position. In February 2017 the Trump administration made Justice and Education withdraw their earlier interpretation. They have not issued a new one. That leaves schools free to declare that “on the basis of sex” means biological sex. The United States Supreme Court took note of the change in interpretation. It had agreed to hear the Virginia case, but after the change it sent the case back to the lower court.

Since then a third court has formally decided the meaning of “on the basis of sex.” A federal appeals court in Chicago ruled that a transgender student in Wisconsin could sue for an order allowing them to use the boys’ bathroom. It stated that “sex” could mean the one with which they identified. The Wisconsin school district has appealed the case to the Supreme Court for a definitive ruling. Until that happens, schools are free to interpret the statute however they wish.

If you believe you have the right to choose, contact lawyer for education issues Greg Smith.