Sexual harassment is different from sexual assault and does not need to involve any sexual conduct or sex acts. Sexual harassment occurs when a person is targeted or singled out for discrimination on the basis of sex. This behavior is prohibited under multiple state and federal laws.
For example, female students in STEM classes may be consistently discouraged because “women can’t do math,” or they may be denied opportunities otherwise available to male students. This form of discrimination is unacceptable and against the law.
Sexual harassment can be physical, verbal, or visual. An example of verbal harassment might include unwanted, lewd comments about a person’s body, dirty jokes, or spreading rumors about someone’s sexual activity. Visual sexual harassment can occur through the display or sharing of obscene pictures, messages, or objects. .
Different schools define sexual harassment in different ways. However, Title IX requires all schools to take steps to prevent sexual harassment and investigate reported abuse. A pattern of recurring behavior may constitute sexual harassment, but investigators can also find that a single incident constitutes a violation.
If you have experienced sexual harassment on campus, write down what occurred and when the incident took place. For online harassment, take screenshots as proof of the harassment, with a record of time and date. If you are subject to sexual harassment, you can not only report the harassment to the school’s Title IX coordinator; you may also file a state or federal lawsuit. Litigation can be particularly appropriate if the school is unresponsive to legitimate complaints or, worse, retaliates against you.
If you are accused of sexual harassment, your school is obligated to investigate the claim under its Title IX procedures, which guarantee you the right to legal representation. As with other Title IX infractions, a sexual harassment charge can have serious repercussions for your education. A skilled attorney can help guide you through the process, protect your rights, and ensure that the investigation is fair and conducted properly.