If you are a student, you may want to consider your safety at school as part of your overall safety plan. A federal law known as Title IX may help define what your school must do. If your school receives federal funding, under certain circumstances they are obligated to respond to “sexual harassment,” which includes dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.1 Public schools and many private schools receive federal funding. You may be able to work with your school to help you create a safety plan that works for you.
If the abuser is also a student and any of the sexual harassment occurred on school or campus grounds or during a school-sponsored event, then the school is required to offer supportive measures to you, and offer a complaint process (“grievance process”). You can choose to get supportive measures even if you do not want to go through a complaint process, but the measures cannot punish the abuser.2
If the abuser is not a student or if the sexual harassment entirely happened outside of school or campus grounds, then the school may not have an obligation to respond with supportive measures and a complaint process. However, many schools still offer supportive measures under these circumstances—there is just no law that tells the school that they have to do so.
Supportive measures are individualized steps that the school takes to ensure your safety at school and to make sure the sexual harassment you’ve experienced does not harm your education. They can involve many things depending on your situation.3 Here are some examples of supportive measures:
- issuing a no-contact order;
- moving you to a new dorm;
- moving your locker;
- allowing you to change your class schedule even after classes have started;
- helping you get tutoring, extra credit, or other academic support; and
- helping you get connected to counseling resources.
Supportive measures will vary depending on your needs, on whether you are a K-12 or college student, and other individual circumstances.
If the abuser is not a student at the school, you can also ask your school about barring the abuser from school grounds and events. The school is not legally obligated to do this, but they may choose to. Sometimes this is called issuing a “persona non grata” order.
No-contact orders are one common type of supportive measure. A no-contact order is an order from your school that says that the abuser cannot contact you, and it may include other requirements depending on the situation. For example, if you and the abuser share a class, it might be able to order that an abuser has to sit in a certain seat so that s/he does not come near you. If someone violates a no-contact order, then s/he may be subject to sanctions like suspension. Many schools issue “mutual no-contact orders” that say that you and the abuser both cannot contact each other. You should think through the situations where you might encounter the abuser to figure out what types of supportive measures you might need. To request supportive measures, you can reach out to your school’s Title IX Coordinator.
1 Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq.
2 34 C.F.R. §§ 106.2(h); 106.44(a)
3 34 C.F.R. § 106.3