This June marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX. Its principal provision reads as follows:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Educational institutions from primary schools to universities who receive federal funding are subject to the law. Title IX is best known for having transformed the arena of women’s sports. Title IX, however, has a much broader reach: it applies also to sexual violence and sexual harassment. One of the more controversial aspects of Title IX jurisprudence is that sexual harassment is not only defined by persistent behavior but may also be found in a single episode. This latter fact is the subject of numerous critiques. But what is sometimes missed in such criticism is the full nature of even a “single episode” of harassment, especially within educational institutions.