Confidentiality

Title IX requires that an institution with notice of sexual harassment/misconduct act to end and remedy that harassment/misconduct. Notwithstanding this obligation, OCR has made clear that it "strongly supports" a student's interest in confidentiality and, while it recognizes that there may be instances where an institution must deny a student's request for confidentiality in order to meet its Title IX obligations, it has now characterized those instances as "limited," noting that even then information should only be shared with those individuals responsible for handling the institution's response to the situation.

OCR's confirms that when confronted with a student request for confidentiality, the institution must inform the student that honoring that request may impair the institution's ability to fully investigate and respond to the incident (including disciplining or taking other action against a perpetrator). As part of that discussion, the institution needs to explain to the student Title IX's prohibition against retaliation, that it will take steps to prevent retaliation, and that it will take "strong responsive action" if retaliation occurs.

If a student still insists upon confidentiality, the institution is required to balance that request against its obligation to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, including the reporting student. While not required, OCR believes that this is a determination best made by the Title IX coordinator.