Transforming Title IX: How Sexual Harassment Became Sex Discrimination in American Higher Education

Celene Reynolds, Cornell University

Sexual harassment is one of the most urgent problems facing American higher education today, and Title IX requires schools to address it. Yet, Title IX was not created to combat sexual harassment, nor does the statute even mention sexual harassment. This article provides the first systematic analysis of how sexual harassment became illegal sex discrimination in education under Title IX. Triangulating multiple data sources across two linked cases—including federal policies, court records, student newspapers, documents from seven different archives, and 35 key informant interviews—I trace the development of this new use for Title IX at Yale University and its initial diffusion to the University of California at Berkeley in the late 1970s. I show that the politically productive interactions between people protected by a law and lawyers advocating on their behalf played an important role in this transformation of both Title IX and the concept of gender inequality itself.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 185. Sex, Gender and Power