Beginning January 1, 2020, all Texas colleges and universities were required to abide by new laws on the proper handling of sexual misconduct on their campuses. Failing to follow these new Title IX laws can result in stiff penalties for individuals as well as the universities.
Why were changes needed for Title IX?
The authors of the new legislation felt that Title IX wasn’t specific enough to ensure that all misconduct on campuses is given the attention needed to be handled fairly.
Incidents of sexual violations happening on university and college campuses across the country are all too common.
For instance, we can’t forget the mishandling of the sexual assaults at Baylor University.
Some people believe there isn’t enough being done to punish offenders and protect victims, as well as protect those who report the crimes.
While there are discussions about new laws being passed at the federal level, Texas lawmakers decided to do something about it now at the state level.
In fact, according the Dallas Observer, federal Title IX rules may be going the opposite way:
“The new requirements outlined in those [Texas] bills come at a time when the U.S. Department of Education is moving in the opposite direction. Last year, the department released proposed Title IX guidance that would ease the department’s rules regarding campus sexual assault. Critics say those new rules could lead to fewer sexual assaults being reported on college campuses.”
According to the authors of these new changes—Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) and Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin)—there were gaps in the process of reporting Title IX crimes that lead to mishandling of the situations.
What is Title IX, exactly?
Title IX, which was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1972, reads as follows:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
This law was added to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was passed to outlaw prejudicial treatment based on a person’s religion, race, color, national origin or sex regarding employment and public accommodation. Originally, the Civil Rights Acts didn’t cover individuals at educational institutions.
Title VI was passed in 1964 to stop discrimination at federally funded public and private entities, but only addressed discrimination on the basis of color, race and national origin. Title IX was eventually passed in early 1972 to cover sex discrimination in educational institutions.
How has Title IX changed in Texas?
Late in 2019, 2 bills were signed into law to help ensure that violations of Title IX on college campuses are handled appropriately.
The first of these changes covers who is required to report these violations. Before, the only individuals required to report Title IX violations were faculty members. Under Senate Bill 212, now all university employees are required to report these violations. Those who don’t report can lose their job or even be criminally charged.
“I think that there will be potentially more reports just because of the nature of what is at stake with the consequences of not reporting,” Krista Anderson, Title IX coordinator for the University of Texas System, told reporters. “I think if there is anything that could constitute these prohibited behaviors, people are going to call.”
House Bill 1735 requires colleges and universities to have public awareness campaigns covering Title IX violations as well as to give student orientations regarding sexual misconduct.
In the coming years, it’s likely that the rest of the country will look to Texas for guidance for their own bills and to see how it plays out.