Sexual harassment is unwanted and unwelcome behavior or remarks of a sexual nature. In an educational setting, the harassment limits or denies a student’s right to educational benefits, or participate in an educational activity or program in a safe and supportive environment. According to federal and state laws, sexual harassment is illegal in educational settings. In schools, this often involves a teacher-student or student-student relationship, but is not limited. The relationships may also be administrator-student, administrator-teacher, and teacher-teacher.
The different types of sexual harassment in schools are:
- Different treatment – This may occur where a student is receiving favorable treatment because of their sex.
- Quid pro quo – This occurs where it is implied that a sexual favor will result in preferential treatment, such as a better grade or promotion.
- Hostile environment – Whether an environment is hostile is based on the reasonable person standard and the totality of all the circumstances.
Recently, as technology has become more prevalent, sending sexually suggestive text messages or emails may also qualify as sexual harassment. Remember, the crux of the harassment claim is anything unwanted or unwelcome that is also sexual in nature.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law prohibiting sexual discrimination in schools, protects people from sexual discrimination and harassment. Teachers and students have the right to participate in all educational programs and activities without fear of sexual harassment. Faculty, staff, and students all have a duty not to engage in sexual conduct that is obscene or unwanted by others, and likewise have a right to be protected from such conduct.
People who believe that have been sexually harassed should consider doing any of the following:
- Notify the harasser in person or in writing that they find the harassers conduct offensive, and ask them to stop
- Adhere to the school’s procedures and policies regarding sexual harassment issues
- Maintain a detailed account of the harassing events
- Report the offensive behaviors to a school administrator, teacher, or counselor
Investigating and proving a sexual harassment claim can be difficult. An harassment or personal injury lawyer can help you file within the deadlines for sexual harassment claims. A lawyer will help you investigate your claim and inform you of your options.