“First of all, let me say that being sexually harassed since 5th grade has
gone beyond the damage of affecting the way I feel…. Now…I have no pride, no
self- confidence, and still no way out of the [misery] I am put through in my
school.”1 Sexual harassment of students is a real and serious problem in
education at all levels, including elementary and secondary schools as well as
colleges and universities. It can affect any student, regardless of sex, race,
or age. Sexual harassment can threaten a student’s physical or emotional
well-being, influence how well a student does in school, and make it difficult
for a student to achieve his or her career goals. Moreover, sexual harassment is
illegal–Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) prohibits sex
discrimination, including sexual harassment. Preventing and remedying sexual
harassment in schools is essential to ensure nondiscriminatory, safe
environments in which students can learn. A…student should feel safe and
comfortable walking down the halls of his or her school. School is a place for
learning and growing. Sexual harassment stops that process.2 This pamphlet
provides school administrators, teachers, students, and parents with fundamental
information to assist them in recognizing and dealing with sexual harassment
under Title IX. It outlines basic principles in question-and-answer format. Some
more information about a school’s responsibilities has been omitted, and school
officials should read “Sexual Harassment Guidance: Harassment of Students
by School Employees, Other Students, or Third Parties” to ensure a full
understanding of the law. Parents and students can also consult this Guidance,
for more information about student rights. The Guidance was published by the

Office for Civil Rights in the Federal Register on March of 1997 and may be
obtained from any of the OCR Enforcement Offices or by calling 1-800-421-3481.

It is also posted on OCR s web page at http://www.ed.gov/offices/OCR/ocrpubs.html.

Sexual harassment can occur at any school activity and can take place in
classrooms, halls, cafeterias, dormitories and other areas. Too often, the
behavior is allowed to continue simply because students and employees are not
informed about what sexual harassment is or how to stop it. Students, parents
and school staff must be able to recognize sexual harassment, and understand
what they can do to prevent it from occurring and how to stop it if it does
occur. Harassing behavior, if ignored or not reported, is likely to continue and
become worse, rather than go away. The impact of sexual harassment on a
student’s educational progress and attainment of future goals can be significant
and should not be underestimated. As a result of sexual harassment, a student
may, for example, have trouble learning, drop a class or drop out of school
altogether, lose trust in school officials, become isolated, fear for personal
safety, or lose self-esteem. For these reasons, a school should not accept,
tolerate or overlook sexual harassment. A school should not excuse the
harassment with an attitude of “that’s just emerging adolescent
sexuality” or “boys will be boys,” or ignore it for fear of
damaging a professor’s reputation. This does nothing to stop the sexual
harassment and can even send a message that such conduct is accepted or
tolerated by the school. When a school makes it clear that sexual harassment
will not be tolerated, trains its staff, and appropriately responds when
harassment occurs, students will see the school as a safe place where everyone
can learn.