The federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions is Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972 (amending the Higher Education Act of 1965). This act is codified as Title 20, United States Code, Chapter 38, Sections 1681-1686. The act was also amended by the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 ("Title IX").
The law states that "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."
Title IX forbids sex discrimination in all college student services and academic programs including, but not limited to, admissions, financial aid, academic advising, housing, athletics, recreational services, college residential life programs, health services, counseling and psychological services, Registrar's office, classroom assignments, grading and discipline. The act prohibits institutions from, on the basis of sex: (1) denying any person aid, benefits or services in all areas, including course offerings, extracurricular activities such as student organizations and competitive athletics, financial aid, facilities and housing; (2) providing different aid, benefits, or services or provide them in a different manner; (3) subjecting any person to separate or different rules of behavior, sanctions, or treatment, including rules pertaining to appearance; (4) providing significant assistance such as facilities or act as a sponsor to any organization or person which discriminates on the basis of sex in providing any aid or benefits to students or employees; and (5) limiting any person in the enjoyment of any right, privilege, advantage or opportunity. In short, schools cannot use sex as a category to classify students. Title IX also forbids discrimination because of sex in employment and recruitment consideration or selection, whether full time or part time, under any education program or activity operated by an institution receiving or benefiting from federal financial assistance. Of the nine exceptions listed in the act, the only exceptions that may apply deal with fraternities, sororities and father-son and mother-daughter activities.
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Education is responsible for enforcing Title IX. OCR's responsibility to ensure that institutions that receive federal funds comply with Title IX is carried out through compliance enforcement. The principle enforcement activity is the investigation and resolution of complaints filed by those alleging sex discrimination.