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Title IX Beyond Colleges and Voices from the Field: Edith Sanchez

Conversations around Title IX in colleges and universities have been plentiful lately thanks to the well deserved media and societal attention around campus sexual violence. But did you know Title IX applies to K-12 public schools as well? Title IX is a great conversation starter for those of you who may be wanting to provide healthy relationship education or other sexual violence prevention curricula in your local schools. Title IX states that no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Discrimination on the basis of sex includes sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence.Title IX applies to most grade schools, middles schools, high schools, charter schools, and colleges or universities.

Recently the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault released “Consideration for School District Title IX Guidance” to remind K-12 school districts of their ongoing obligations under Title IX. The document recommends that every school district engage in a process to develop a sexual misconduct policy with relevant stakeholders including rape crisis center. To go along with the White House Task Force’s K-12 document on sexual misconduct policies, the Department of Education has released the “Safe Place to Learn” resource package which looks at preventing, interceding in, and responding to peer-to-peer sexual harassment in schools.To learn more about compliance in K-12 schools around sexual harassment click here. Whether you are just approaching schools or are hoping to deepen your relationship, Title IX can be a great frame.
Voices from the Field: Who Knew Title IX Could Lead to Prevention?

Edith Sanchez

CLUES, Minneapolis

“My name is Edith Sanchez, Domestic/Sexual Violence Prevention Program Coordinator at Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES), a non-profit in the Twin Cities. Our organization is a recipient of the Community Primary Prevention Partnership Grant (CPPP) from MNCASA. We have been working with a Twin Cities charter school for two years. Our goal is to create a change in Latinx students’ beliefs, norms, attitudes, and behaviors towards preventing sexual violence.

Initially, I had some struggles starting the project. I had two notable challenges:

First, the curriculum wasn’t culturally specific. The material I was provided didn’t properly address the situations specific to what a Latinx will face. It didn’t account for machismo perspective, familismo and respeto constructs, or the religious overtones present in Latinx culture. As a result, I had to write my own curriculum to properly address the needs for this course. I drew from my understanding of Latinx culture to create activities and exercises relevant to the scenarios Latinx youth face. My curriculum needed a lot of work at first, but feedback from my co-facilitator and even the students helped me develop it and mold it into what it is today.

Second, it’s unsurprising that the school needed the course to be flexible for a variety of time frames, from as long as a semester to as brief as a three week summer course. The feedback other teachers provided was important: they know how to adapt curriculum, and they know the students.   

As year two drew near, I looked into sustainability for the program. I studied sexual violence policy for schools and realized that under Title IX, all school districts that receive federal funds must have an appointed staff member to address sexual violence and sexual discrimination. With this information, I leveraged the school’s administration to implement mandatory staff training on identifying and handling cases of sexual violence. During the staff training, the teachers brought up how little they knew about their own school’s policies on the consequences for sexual violence. Several teachers were eager to incorporate sexual violence prevention into all curriculums. One is now teaching gender studies to dismantle machismo attitudes and gender norms. Another is adding curriculum covering sexual violence as a form of power and oppression: generational trauma stemming from colonization.

Working with a charter school has been challenging, but rewarding. Although sexual violence prevention in the Latinx community is at its early stages, one school’s administration and policies are better equipped. And more importantly, I’ve watched the students begin to identify forms of sexual harassment and take a stand against it. It’s very encouraging to see students come to me out of their own concern to get answers on unhealthy relationships and sexual violence, and how they can use this information to help their communities.”