What We’ve Accomplished: Equity in Schools
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
- Ending Sexual Violence in Education. We fought back hard against rollbacks to students’ rights after sexual assault or harassment, launching 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.
- Suing the Federal Government for Student Survivors. ERA joined forces with other national advocacy groups to sue the Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos over attempts to reverse Title IX protections, and mobilized our base of grassroots supports to join the fight. This lawsuit is ongoing.
- Protecting Women in Science.Together with co-counsel, we represented two scientific researchers at a world-renowned biomedical research institute in a lawsuit over their employers’ inadequate response to sexual harassment and retaliation. The settlement resulted in monetary damages for our clients, and the establishment of a model Title IX program specifically focused on curbing the type of sexual harassment that’s common in research labs. These changes helped 2,800+ current grad students and employees, plus thousands more in years to come.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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