On December 1, 2014, the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued “Questions and Answers on Title IX and Single-Sex Elementary and Secondary Classes and Extracurricular Activities”
Schools and school districts can run afoul of OCR if not mindful of the guidance offered on same-sex classes and extracurricular activities. The ED’s Title IX’s regulations apply to every public school, including traditional, charter and magnet schools. The guidance document states that the general rule under Title IX is that schools may offer single-sex classes as long as, in doing so, the school does not “exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently any person on the basis of sex.” The regulations specifically allow for schools to intentionally separate students by sex:
- Contact sports in physical education classes;
- Classes or portions of classes in elementary and secondary schools that deal primarily with human sexuality; and
- Nonvocational classes and extracurricular activities within a coeducational, nonvocational elementary or secondary school if certain criteria are met.
This Q&A focuses on the third category. The criteria for offering single-sex classes under ED’s Title IX regulations requires school districts to satisfy a two-part justification test to show that:
- Each single-sex class is based on the school’s “important objective” either to improve its students’ educational achievement through its overall established policies to provide diverse educational opportunities ( the diversity objective), or to meet the particular, identified educational needs of its students (the needs objective); and
- The single-sex nature of the class has to be “substantially related” to achieving that important objective.
The Q&A goes on to establish additional requirements school districts must satisfy to have same-sex nonvocational classes and extracurricular activities, as well as other elements to assess and evaluate before having such a same-sex class or activity.
If a school district in Arizona has questions or concerns on the parameters of same-sex classes or extracurricular activities for schools subject to Title IX, they should contact Erin H. Walz, an education and litigation attorney with Udall Shumway, PLC.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please feel free to contact Erin H. Walz at 480.461.5379, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area.