All The Rights Every High Schooler Threatened By Sexual Violence Needs To Know

by Alexandra Svokos

We hear a lot about sexual assault cases that happen in college.

Especially over the past few years, survivors and activists have made their voices heard about survivors' rights on campus.

But, those very same rights are also given to students in elementary, middle and high school.

These rights are created by Title IX, a federal law that says there can't be discrimination on the basis of sex.

Survivors are protected by that. Schools are required to make sure their environments are safe for all students (regardless of gender or sexual orientation) who may be victims of gender-based violence.

All students — from elementary school to college — have a set of rights, as detailed by Know Your IX, an organization dedicated to Title IX rights.

Schools have to have a public policy on their process for handling allegations of sexual violence.

Schools have to do their own work to ensure students are safe from harassment and violence. If you were assaulted by a member of a club, for example, a school can't tell you should quit that club to not be near that person.

You have the right to remain at your school and have every educational program and opportunity available.

Each school or school district must have a "Title IX coordinator." This is the person who must make sure the school is following Title IX rules properly.

Schools can't retaliate against a person for filing a complaint. Even if a school investigates an assault allegation and decides it wasn't an assault, a school can't punish the student who filed the complaint.

The school must also then stop anybody else from retaliating for a complaint. Therefore, a student can't turn around and bully a student who made an accusation under Title IX.

Schools also are responsible for responding to complaints of sexual assault that happened outside of the school building. This includes on a school bus, field trip and online, among other related spaces.

Schools are supposed to teach you about Title IX, sexual violence, consent, bystander intervention and reporting assaults. They're also supposed to teach teachers, counselors, coaches and so on to respond to reports of sexual violence.

And schools have to give you the things you need to stay in school after an instance of sexual violence, which could include accommodation, counseling or tutoring services.

Although schools are supposed to follow these rules to protect young students from sexual violence, many do not.

This is why it's so important you know your rights — so you know when those rights are being violated.

I'm sure there are not many high school students who would know to speak to a lawyer — or even how to speak to a lawyer — if they realize a school isn't properly handling Title IX.

But there are resources available through a handful of helpful organizations, including Know Your IX.

The more information you know, the better prepared you will be to stand up against injustices, but you shouldn't be doing it all on your own.

If your school is properly handling Title IX for you, generations of students will benefit in the future as well.

Citations: Department of Justice, Know Your IX, Huffington Post, US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, Know Your IX