109 Iowa L. Rev. 1807 (2024)



Two federal district courts in Maryland and California have ruled that private schools are subject to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 because their tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code counts as federal financial assistance. This major development in the interpretation of Title IX threatens to subject tax-exempt private schools not only to Title IX, but to a number of other statutes and regulations that apply to recipients of federal financial assistance. This would be a significant economic and administrative burden to small schools whose limited resources make it difficult or even impossible to afford compliance. But there is clear evidence that the decisions of the district courts were misguided. While case law on the matter is sparse, the legislative and executive branches have indicated in a variety of ways that they do not consider tax-exempt status to be federal financial assistance. Further, the conduct of private schools who choose to opt out of receiving federal funds to avoid having to comply with Title IX and similar federal laws demonstrate a widespread public understanding that it is possible for a tax-exempt organization to not be subject to Title IX. This Note examines the evidence that 501(c)(3) tax-exemption is not federal financial assistance under Title IX and urges the legislative and executive branches to clarify this fact for the sake of schools that would be adversely affected by a wider acceptance of a contrary interpretation.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024