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Justice Friday lecture explores implications of Title IX for LGBTQ students

| Sunday, October 4, 2015

This week’s installment of the College’s Justice Fridays lecture series focused on explaining how Title IX protects students of all gender identities and sexual orientation from sex-based discrimination.

Saint Mary’s senior Bri O’Brien led the conversation, focusing on how Title IX can benefit the LGBTQ community on college campuses. She offered a concise explanation of how Title IX works.

“Title IX extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity,” O’Brien said.

“Men, women, transgender students anybody of any gender identity or sexual orientation cannot be discriminated on that basis because that all originates from sex.”

“You cannot discriminate on the basis of sex in any educational institutions that receive public funds … from that they [Title IX] elaborate onto sex-based harassment, gender based harassment, sexual violence and sexual harassment,” O’Brien said.

While Saint Mary’s does an excellent job informing students of their rights when sexual assault occurs, O’Brien said, there is less focus on how Title IX protects the LGBTQ community.

“We [Saint Mary’s] don’t really touch on the LGBTQ part of it,” O’Brien said.

She said administrators should be trained and treat same-sex sexual harassment the same as heterosexual sexual harassment.

“Recently, the [Office of Civil Rights’s] elaborated guidance on Title IX specifically said that administrators, faculty, staff, Title IX coordinators, deputy coordinators, mandated reporters; all these people have to have specified training on how to work with LGBTQ students.

“When it comes to same sex assault, Title IX mandates the process should be the same for same sex assaults as it is for non-same sex assaults. So that means it shouldn’t look any different, you shouldn’t be asked any different questions,” O’Brien said.

Junior Sarah Bastian said she had a better understanding of Title IX after the talk.

“I learned that Title IX applies to every single student, regardless of sexual identity, who is a victim of sexual assault or harassment,” she said. “Also, there are women here at Saint Mary’s who sexually harass fellow students, but that is not discussed. The discussions mostly revolve around women being victimized by men. Neither situation should be ignored.”

O’Brien concluded the talk by advising students to know their rights and to let the administration know they know their rights under Title IX to avoid miscommunication.

Bastian said a basic knowledge of Title IX would enable students to more effectively navigate the system should they become a victim of sexual discrimination or harassment.

“If you don’t know your rights, you cannot fully stand up for yourself,” she said.

The Justice Friday lecture series takes place every Friday from 12 p.m. to 12:50 p.m. in Conference Room A and B of the Student Center.

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