Rows of colorful empty chairs.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights received more complaints alleging violations of Title IX than any other law in fiscal year 2022, according to data the office released.

Title IX complaints accounted for 29% of the 4,380 discrimination issues reported to OCR from October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022. The civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs receiving federal financial assistance was the most frequently cited law in complaints.

The second most common issue was race discrimination, which made up 22% of complaints. Disability discrimination complaints were third at 21%.

“We are alarmed that Title IX remains a top issue of concern over so many years since its passage,” said AAUP senior counsel Leslie M. Wong. “Title IX needs stronger enforcement and more comprehensive guidance to ensure that institutions implement it fully and in good faith.”

Demands for policy changes on issues like transgender student rights, religious exemptions, and “cancel culture” accusations have led to concerns over threats to Title IX enforcement. However, the new data shows Title IX complaints have persisted at high levels despite political debates over the law’s scope and application.

OCR attributed the overall increase in discrimination complaints partly to ongoing disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency received 13% more complaints in FY 2022 than in the prior year. At the same time, OCR emphasized its continued “commitment to vigorously enforce civil rights laws and regulations.”

The Department of Education under President Biden has moved to strengthen Title IX enforcement, including by reversing Trump-era rules that narrowed the law’s scope. However, advocates argue more must be done to safeguard Title IX’s promise of equal access to education and ensure it keeps pace with issues emerging in schools and colleges.

The complaint data provides new evidence of Title IX’s enduring relevance and the ongoing need for robust OCR enforcement of antidiscrimination laws that shape the nation’s educational system. Title IX’s position atop the complaint list highlights its crucial role, while also signaling the substantial work still left to achieve its full promise.


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