Discrimination in Education


There are a number of federal civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination in education on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age.  These laws are applicable to all state education agencies and state vocational rehabilitation agencies that receive federal funds from the Department of Education.  The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is the body responsible for enforcing the federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in education.

The federal civil rights laws that regulate discrimination in education are explained below:

  • 34 CFR Part 106: Codified version of Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972.  This title explains the conduct that can be described as discrimination on the basis of sex.  It includes sexual harassment, the failure to provide equal opportunity in athletics, and discrimination based on pregnancy.
  • 34 CFR 100: Codified version of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin.  Some of the acts that are described as discrimination under this title include racial harassment, school segregation, and denial of language services to foreign nationals with limited knowledge of English.
  • 34 CFR Part 110: Codified version of The Age Discrimination Act of 1975.  It prohibits discrimination based on age in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

The above-mentioned rights extend to all the following institutions that receive federal funds from the Department of Education:

  • State education agencies,
  • Elementary and secondary school systems,
  • Colleges and universities,
  • Vocational schools,
  • Proprietary schools,
  • State vocational rehabilitation agencies,
  • Libraries, and
  • Museums

The services and benefits that the listed institutions must administer in a non discriminatory manner include:

  • Admissions,
  • Recruitment,
  • Financial aid,
  • Academic programs,
  • Student treatment and services,
  • Counseling and guidance,
  • Discipline,
  • Classroom assignment,
  • Grading,
  • Vocational education,
  • Recreation,
  • Physical education,
  • Athletics,
  • Housing, and
  • Employment.

Under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the OCR is also responsible for prohibiting discrimination by public entities on the basis of disability.  The OCR also has responsibilities under the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act which states that an education agency that provides an opportunity to outsiders to meet on school premises or in school facilities is prohibited from denying equal access to any group officially affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, or any other youth group listed in Title 36 of the United States Code as a patriotic society, that wishes to meet at the school.