Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sometimes you have to look beyond Title IX

We have been writing a lot lately about Title IX and sexual harassment and sexual assault. We noted that when judicial boards/courts consider sexual assault there is a different standard of proof than what is demanded by criminal courts.
Well, in Missouri last week, a state appeals court ruled that plaintiffs can now use the state's Human Rights Act to sue schools when sex discrimination is alleged. The ruling is in the wake of a lawsuit brought by parents of a boy who claims who was repeatedly assaulted by another male student in an elementary school. Plaintiffs lawyers are pleased because the Missouri Human Rights Act does not require, as Title IX does, for the schools to exhibit "deliberate indifference" to the situation. The HRA, which has been used in cases of sex discrimination in work places, only states that the defendant--in this case, the school district--knew or should have known about the discrimination/harassment.
It seems that the school district might appeal the ruling.
There's an interesting parallel here to the ways in which female students who wanted access to contact sports (exempted from Title IX) the federal law to their own state's Equal Rights Amendments in order to gain access.