Amended Federal Lawsuit Against DeVos Shows Title IX Policy Was Based on Sexist Stereotypes, Is Unconstitutional

October 31. 2018
Jess Eagle


For Immediate Release
Oct 31, 2018

Media Contact
Jess Eagle, Strategic Communications Manager
Equal Rights Advocates
(415) 575-2380
[email protected]

 

New Evidence Strengthens Claim that Trump’s Title IX Policy Was Based on Sexist Stereotypes, Rendering It Unconstitutional

Amended Federal Lawsuit Cites New Documents Revealing Senior Education Department Official Candice Jackson Ordered Staff To Read Book Describing Title IX As Protecting Women From “Sexual Bogeymen”

San Francisco, CA. — Today, on behalf of plaintiffs SurvJustice, Equal Rights Advocates, and Victim Rights Law Center, three national public interest organizations — Democracy Forward, the National Center for Youth Law, and the National Women’s Law Center — amended their lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos over discriminatory rollbacks of Title IX protections for student survivors of sexual assault. Today’s filing includes new evidence revealing the extent to which senior Department of Education officials were motivated by sexist stereotypes to eliminate protections for student survivors, violating the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection guarantee.

Records uncovered through a FOIA lawsuit brought by Democracy Forward revealed:

  • Prior to the September 2017 rollback of Title IX protections, staff in the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights were required to read a book by Laura Kipnis that describes college campuses as “a secret cornucopia of accusation,” and Title IX as a remedy to “sexual ambivalences or awkward sexual experiences.” In a meeting with staff, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education Candice Jackson said the book was “helpful… in reference to the issues we are discussing.”
  • Jackson solicited Gordon E. Finley’s view in May 2017 regarding his writings on sexual assault. Among Mr. Finley’s statements on sexual assault, he has repeated the incorrect statistics that 41-62% of reported rapes and other sexual abuse are false accusations. Finley is the author of Sex: The New War on Men, and a frequent purveyor of the debunked statistic on false allegations of rape and other sexual abuse.
  • Jackson coordinated with Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE) regarding a letter campaign by FACE members to the Department about the Department’s Title IX Policy, and to request that FACE publish numerous op-eds regarding the Policy in advance of Secretary DeVos’s September 2017 speech on the policy. FACE’s mission is to “advocate for the rights of falsely accused students.”
  • The discriminatory viewpoint revealed by the newly released FOIA documents is consistent with Jackson’s statement to The New York Times in July 2017 that “accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation.” In September 2017, the Trump Administration rescinded protections for student survivors of sexual violence, such as the requirement that schools conduct prompt investigations following reports of sexual misconduct. The Administration issued a new and extreme Title IX policy in its place, creating discriminatory barriers that disadvantage survivors and discourage them from reporting incidents of sexual violence.

In January 2018, SurvJustice, Equal Rights Advocates, and Victim Rights Law Center filed suit, alleging the Trump Administration’s extreme Title IX policy is unlawfully based on government officials’ discriminatory stereotypes about the credibility of women and girls who report sexual violence.

The amended complaint was filed today in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Read the original press release about our lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education, and Secretary Betsy DeVos, filed in January 2018.

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Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) is a national civil rights organization dedicated to protecting and expanding economic and educational access and opportunities for women and girls.

Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.

SurvJustice is a survivor-led national not-for-profit organization that increases the prospect of justice for all survivors of sexual violence through effective legal assistance, policy advocacy, and institutional training.

Victim Rights Law Center is the first nonprofit law center in the country solely focused on the legal needs of sexual assault victims.

The National Women’s Law Center has worked for more than 40 years to protect and promote equality and opportunity for women and families. We champion policies and laws that help women and girls achieve their potential at every stage of their lives — at school, at work, at home, and in retirement. Our staff are committed advocates who take on the toughest challenges, especially for the most vulnerable women.

The National Center for Youth Law is a non-profit law firm that helps low-income children achieve their potential by transforming the public agencies that serve them.

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