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Sexual Violence and Harassment in College Park Schools

Sexual violence and harassment in College Park schools are defined in several sources, including U.S. Department of Education guidelines and university policies. Anyone accused of sexual harassment or sexual violence should consider the setting in which the allegations were raised as part of the process of defending against the accusations.

Those found to have engaged in sexual violence or sexual harassment in College Park schools may be subject to severe sanctions as well as criminal penalties. Legal representation from a student defense lawyer is strongly advised.

U.S. Department of Education

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits educational programs receiving federal financial assistance from discriminating against students on the basis of sex. Interpretations of Title IX view both sexual harassment and sexual violence as forms of discrimination outlawed by the provision.

Federal law requires every school to establish a policy regarding sex discrimination and to distribute that policy to students. Provisions should include the procedures students may use to file complaints of sexual harassment, sexual violence, and other forms of sex discrimination.

Definition of Sexual Harassment

The U.S. Department of Education defines sexual harassment as conduct considered to be unwelcome, sexual in nature, and that somehow limits a student’s ability to benefit from or participate in an educational program at a school.

Examples of conduct considered sexual in nature include:

  • Displaying sexually explicit drawings
  • Making sexual propositions
  • Writing graffiti of a sexual nature
  • Spreading rumors or stories about a student’s sexual activity
  • Sharing emails or websites of a sexual nature
  • Touching of a sexual nature
  • Performing sexual gestures

Sexual violence and harassment in College Park schools may take many forms and may be committed by students, staff, or outside parties of either sex. The victim of sexual harassment may be the same sex as the offender. Title IX prohibits sexual violence and harassment in College Park schools in any school program or activity, including those that take place off campus.

Conduct must be unwelcome to be harassment. The Department of Education considers conduct unwelcome if the student did not request or invite it and finds the conduct offensive or undesirable.

College Park University Definitions

The University of Maryland Sexual Misconduct Policy & Procedures guide defines sexual violence and harassment in College Park schools along with associated terms. These definitions differ somewhat from those found in criminal statutes or federal education guidelines.

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is defined in the guide as “physical sexual acts perpetrated without Consent.” Examples given include sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual coercion, although the list is not exhaustive. Coercion is further defined to include express or implied threats of harm used to persuade another person to engage in sexual contact. The definition of sexual assault includes sexual contact or intercourse without valid consent.

Sexual Harassment

The university policy guide provides a more extensive definition of sexual harassment than the Department of Education materials. In addition to unwelcome sexual advances and unwelcome request for sexual favors, the definition includes other gender-based or sexual behavior in certain circumstances, with no reference to whether such behavior is unwelcome.

Conduct may be considered sexual harassment under university policy if submission to the conduct affects employment, academic evaluation, or participation in a university program, or where it is “sufficiently severe or pervasive to create an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, demeaning, or sexually offensive working, academic, residential, or social environment.”

More Information About Sexual Violence and Harassment in College Park Schools

Schools in College Park and elsewhere are under increasing pressure to take action against any perceived sexual harassment or sexual violence. Understanding the precise conduct that is prohibited is a first step toward compliance.

However, sometimes, allegations of sexual violence and harassment in College Park schools are unfounded. In such cases, an understanding of these terms can also provide a starting point for defending against the accusations. Contact an attorney quickly for help.