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Many legal proceedings will ensue in the wake of the Penn State sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the nation. Most importantly, there will be the criminal prosecutions of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky for child sexual abuse, and of Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice Provost Gary Schultz for perjury.

But in all the reporting and commentary about this scandal, there has been little or no mention of Penn State’s potential liability under Title IX, the 1972 federal statute that prohibits recipients of federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex in their educational programs and activities.

Title IX states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be . . . subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance . . . .” This statute has had broadranging effect, and has been used to challenge gender inequity in a variety of contexts, including school admissions, testing, and scholarships; the treatment of pregnant and parenting students; school athletics; and sexual harassment by teachers and coaches, as well as by other students and third parties.



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