Strong futures start with equal opportunities in school. But too many girls, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming students receive messages early on that they shouldn’t pursue certain interests or careers, or that they shouldn’t seek justice after sexual violence. For nearly 50 years, ERA has fought fearlessly alongside our student and faculty clients, bringing game-changing cases to ensure our schools provide safe learning and growing spaces that are free from sexual violence and gender stereotypes.
At a time when our hard-won rights are threatened, ERA has joined forces with like-minded allies across the country to fight roll backs of protections from gender discrimination. We’ve also launched the nation’s first network of pro bono attorneys dedicated to providing free legal help to student survivors of sexual assault and harassment.
A Timeline of Our Biggest Wins
- Classrooms Are Not Courtrooms. Our California Supreme Court clarified that colleges are not required to subject student survivors of sexual and domestic violence and their witnesses to courtroom-style live cross-examination, a practice that discouraged reporting of incidents and often retraumatized survivors. The ruling further distanced CA from Trump Administration Title IX changes. (Boermeester v. Carry)
- Student Survivor Toolkit. ERA’s toolkit provides a first-of-its-kind resource for college student survivors of sexual assault, complete with guides to Title IX, advice from other student survivors, hearing preparation, situationally specific self-care practices, and more. View Toolkit.
- Suing the Federal Government for Survivors. We and other national advocacy groups sued Trump’s Department of Education over its reversal of protections for student survivors of sexual assault and harassment. Our lawsuit ended the requirement that survivors and their witnesses be subjected to courtroom-style live cross-examination in Title IX hearings. Learn more.
- A Shield Against Further Trauma. Our advocacy and organizing resulted in the passage of CA Senate Bill 493, setting the nation’s gold standard of rights and protections to student survivors of sexual violence, ensuring easier reporting, inclusion of off-campus incidents, training of Title IX officials on trauma-informed practices and racial bias, and more.
- Ending Sexual Violence in Education. We launched our Initiative to End Sexual Violence in Education, and the nation’s first pro bono attorney network dedicated to providing free legal help to student survivors of sexual assault or harassment.
- High School Survivors Rally. We brought legal action on behalf of high school student who was forced from her school after being sexually assaulted. In addition to inspiring student demonstrations, the lawsuit resulted in a sizable settlement for our client, and implementation of school reforms benefitting thousands of students (Munoz v. Sacramento).
- New Rules in Research. We represented two scientists at a world-renowned biomedical research institute in a lawsuit over their employers’ inadequate response to sexual harassment and retaliation. In addition to winning monetary damages for our clients, we worked with the employer to establish a new model Title IX program focused on curbing sexual harassment in research labs. Learn more.
- Nation’s Strongest K-12 Sexual Harassment Policy. ERA played a key role in developing one of the country’s most progressive K-12 public school sexual harassment policies for the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) in Oakland, California. ERA and Alliance for Girls worked directly with students at the school to develop innovative new policies, which were then passed unanimously by the Board of Education. Learn more.
- A Field of Their Own. ERA represented players on the U.C. Berkeley Women’s Field Hockey team after the school revoked their on-campus practice and competition field privileges to construct a new practice field for men’s football and lacrosse. After filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights on their behalf, we negotiated a settlement resulting in a new on-campus field and monetary relief for the student athletes. Learn more.
- Access to Justice for Women in College Sports. ERA set Title IX precedent with a 9th Circuit decision and subsequent trial win in favor of women student-athletes who were removed from the wrestling team. (Mansourian v. UC Regents) The resulting decision said students who want to challenge their school’s limited female athletic opportunities do not need to provide formal notice to the school before filing a lawsuit. We settled the case for $1.35 million.
- Leveling the Playing Field. ERA challenges decades of non-compliance with Title IX federal law requiring schools to provide female students with equal opportunities to play sports in a case that won the addition of new women sports teams and significant monetary investment in emerging women’s clubs teams.
- Sexual Harassment Includes Peer-to-Peer. ERA and the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund resolved the first case to confirm that schools can be held liable under Title IX for sexual harassment of students by other students. (Doe v. Petaluma)
- Suing Over Rape Culture. We filed the country’s first Title IX class complaint over a “hostile environment” with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights on behalf of students and faculty at U.C. Santa Cruz, who wanted to challenge the rampant sexual assault and harassment on their campus.
- Sexual Harassment Covered by Title IX. Our amicus brief in this groundbreaking case (Alexander v. Yale University) contributed to the court’s decision to confirm for the first time that Title IX does prohibit sexual harassment.
- Challenging “No Girls” Rule in School Sports. On behalf of 9-year-old soccer player Amy Love, we filed a class-action lawsuit against the California Youth Soccer Association (Love v. California Youth Soccer Association), resulting in the Association repealing its ban on girls in soccer league competitions. One year later, Title IX went into effect, prompting greatly increased participation by girls and young women in student athletic programs.