CLOSED OCR Complaint: Lower Merion School District

OCR Complaints

On March 14, 2023, Parents Defending Education (PDE) filed a federal civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against Lower Merion School District in Ardmore, Pennsylvania for discrimination on the basis of sex in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

PDE makes this complaint as an interested third-party organization with members who are parents of schoolchildren throughout the country. PDE and its members oppose discrimination on the basis of sex in America’s schools. But in the Lower Merion School District, the district is offering academic programming for “girls and gender diverse students” that is not accessible to all students in the district.

Attached to this complaint is supporting evidence in the form of a social media event post announcing “the inaugural Girls + STEM Night” (Exhibit A).

The event is open only to “girls and gender diverse students” (Ex. A at 1). The program outlines an opportunity to “expose younger girls and gender diverse students to various STEM-related careers and fields in hopes that it will spark an interest to pursue science, technology, engineering and math inside and outside of the classroom!” (Ex. A at 1). The invitation indicates there will be future programming and networking opportunities (Ex. A at 1).

By its plain terms, Exhibit A shows that only some students may attend this school program. It excludes
others — and this exclusion is based solely on an individual’s sex. As for the future “girls and gender diverse” programming and networking opportunities, that too would confer a benefit on the basis of sex not offered to all students.

On May 1, 2023 the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation into this complaint. See the letter here.

CLOSED: On June 26, 2023 the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights closed the complaint stating that there is insufficient evidence that the District discriminated against students on the basis of sex. See the letter here.