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U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Announces Resolution of Sex-Based Harassment Investigation of Tamalpais Union High School District

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today announced the resolution of a sex-based harassment investigation of the Tamalpais Union High School District in California.

OCR determined that the district violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and its implementing regulations by failing to respond promptly and effectively to repeated notice of ongoing sex-based harassment of a transgender student by another student, predicated on sex stereotyping.

OCR found that the district failed to investigate known allegations that the other student had repeatedly harassed the student about her appearance, her voice, her body, her name, and her pronouns since the start of the 2017-2018 school year. The ongoing harassment the student experienced over the course of months left her feeling unsafe on campus. OCR also found that the district failed to respond promptly or effectively to notice in spring 2018 that this harassment was continuing, and that the district’s investigation of a 2018 incident involving alleged sex-based harassment of the student was neither adequate nor equitable. As a result of these failures, OCR determined that the district permitted the student to be subjected to a hostile environment based on sex that was sufficiently serious to deny or limit the student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the school’s program.

The resolution agreement reached today commits the district to take the steps needed to ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of sex in all of its education programs and activities.

"Today’s resolution with the Tamalpais Union High School District addresses harassment visited on a transgender student based on unlawful sex stereotyping over the course of a school year," said Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. "This resolution will not only address discrimination against this one student but also ensure other students will not suffer the recurring harassment she experienced at school."

The district’s commitments in the voluntary resolution agreement include:

  • Offering to reimburse the student or her parent for past counseling and/or therapy services that the student received after the sex-based harassment began;
  • Reviewing and revising, as necessary, its policies and procedures to clarify that harassment based on sex includes harassment based on sex stereotyping;
  • Training its employees and contractors who respond to sex-based harassment about the Title IX obligation to respond promptly and equitably;
  • Monitoring its schools’ responses to sex-based harassment complaints for compliance with the agreement and Title IX; and
  • Providing documentation to OCR demonstrating that the district’s responses to complaints of sex-based harassment during academic years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 complied with the agreement and Title IX.
The letter to Tamalpais Union High School District is available here and the resolution agreement is available here.