Masculinity and Title IX: Bullying and Sexual Harassment of Boys in the American Liberal State
101 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2014 Last revised: 25 Sep 2014
Date Written: 2014
This article examines two recent “hot topics” related to Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”): sex-segregated schooling and gender-based violence including sexual harassment and bullying. First, in 2006, the Department of Education suspended Title IX’s prohibition of sex-segregated education in K-12 public schools amidst some sex segregation advocates’ claims that a “feminized” educational system causes sex discrimination against boys. Second, over the last decade an increasing number of boys have sued or complained against their schools for sex discrimination in the form of gender-based violence (including same-sex bullying, sexual harassment, hazing, and sexual violence).
This article views these developments through the lens of masculinity in education, drawing connections between “traditional masculinity,” the gendered “hidden curriculum” found in all-boy educational environments, and gender-based violence. It concludes that undercutting Title IX to allow all-boy education not only fails to address the actual sex discrimination many boys face in the form of gender-based violence, but it could actually help create conditions permitting more of this violence and discrimination. It also concludes that allowing sex segregation, particularly when it feeds into sexual harassment, is contrary to fundamental feminist and classical liberal values of the American state. Therefore, this article recommends rescission of the 2006 regulations and strengthening of Title IX’s sexual harassment prohibition through better court enforcement and resources for schools to dismantle the traditionally masculine hidden curriculum. Together, these methods will lessen schools’ risk of Title IX liability by combating sex discrimination against both boys and girls.
Keywords: Sex discrimination, sexual harassment, single-sex education, sex segregation, Title IX, masculinities, masculinity, boys, men, feminism, liberalism
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