A Surge in Sexual Discrimination Complaints at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights

report-to-president-and-secretary-of-education-2016-copyThe Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education recently released its 2016 annual report. The report states that in the government’s 2016 fiscal year, there were a record 16,720 complaints filed with the Office for Civil Rights. This was a 61 percent increase from 2015.

The largest number of the complaints concerned sexual harassment and most of these involved alleged violations of Title IX provisions relating to equal opportunities for women in athletics programs.

The data shows there were 7,747 complaints relating to sexual discrimination filed with the Office for Civil Rights during the 2016 fiscal year. This was 46 percent of all complaints filed that year. In 2015, sexual discrimination cases made up only 28 percent of all complaints. More than 6,000 of these 7,747 complaints in 2016 were related to Title IX provisions concerning equal opportunity for girls and women in athletics at educational institutions.

The Office for Civil Rights received 260 complaints of sexual violence at educational institutions. This is up from 33 complaints involving sexual violence just four years ago. Of the 260 complaints relating to sexual violence, 177 involved colleges and universities. This is 10 times the number of complaints involving sexual violence at colleges and universities that were filed four years ago.

Catherine Lhamon PortaitCatherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, states in the report that “we mark the end of eight productive years in the Obama Administration of securing equal educational opportunity for students. While numbers alone can never tell the full story, the 76,000 complaints we handled, the 66,000 cases we resolved, the more than 5,400 resolution agreements we reached, and the 34 policy guidance documents we issued between 2009 and 2016 speak volumes about ongoing student need and this agency’s service to our school communities.”

Assistant Secretary Lhamon is a summa cum laude graduate of Amherst College in Massachusetts and earned her law degree at Yale.

The full report, Securing Equal Educational Opportunity: Report to the President and Secretary of Education, may be downloaded by clicking here.

Filed Under: Research/StudySexual Assault/Harassment


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