The U.S. Education Department issued guidance Friday reminding schools that they must designate an employee to oversee their efforts to comply with Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education programs and activities.

The guidance applies to all institutions that are subject to Title IX, including K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and it emphasizes the importance of ensuring that the employees who serve as Title IX coordinators have enough independence and authority to carry out their responsibilities.

Federal officials also released a Title IX resource guide meant to help schools understand their obligations and help Title IX coordinators better understand their role.

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has found “that some of the most egregious and harmful Title IX violations occur when a recipient fails to designate a Title IX coordinator or when a Title IX coordinator has not been sufficiently trained or given the appropriate level of authority,” wrote Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, in a letter to education officials nationwide.

“By contrast, OCR has found that an effective Title IX coordinator often helps a recipient provide equal educational opportunities to all students.”

Title IX is often thought of as the law that protects girls’ right to athletic opportunities that are on par with those offered to boys. But the law outlines broad protections against sex discriminations, and the Obama administration has used the law to investigate dozens of college and universities for their handling of sexual violence reports.