Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 (“Title IX”) prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. Neither the statute nor its implementing regulations explicitly define “sex” to include discrimination on the basis of menstruation or related conditions such as perimenopause and menopause. This textual absence has caused confusion over whether Title IX must be interpreted to protect students and other community members from all types of sex-based discrimination. It also calls into question the law’s ability to break down systemic sex-based barriers related to menstruation in educational spaces. Absent an interpretation that there is explicit Title IX coverage, menstruation will continue to cause some students to miss instruction. Other students may be denied access to a menstrual product or a restroom as needed and face health consequences. They also may be teased and bullied after menstrual blood visibly leaks onto their clothes. Employees, who are also covered by Title IX, may be fired for damaging school property as a result of such leaks.1 People in perimenopause may be denied reasonable modifications like bathroom access, water, or temperature control. Collectively, this creates an educational system that prevents students, faculty, or employees from fully participating in educational institutions and causes harm.
Marcy L. Karin, Naomi Cahn, Elizabeth B. Cooper, Bridget J. Crawford, Margaret E. Johnson & Emily G. Waldman,
Title IX and "Menstruation or Related Conditions",
Mich. J. Gender & L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjgl/vol30/iss1/3