ERA Urges DoE to Further Protect Vulnerable Students in Public Comments on Proposed Title IX Regulations
September 13. 2022
For Immediate Release
Sep 13, 2022
In addition to submitting an official comment to the Department of Education encouraging the Biden Administration to increase protections, ERA organized students, educators, advocates, and supporters to submit their own comments and held listening sessions with high school students nationwide to get their feedback.
San Francisco, Sept. 13, 2022 — Equal Rights Advocates has submitted an official comment and organized students, educators, advocates, and concerned citizens to submit their own comments to the Department of Education regarding proposed changes to Title IX regulations. Part of this organizing included ERA-hosted listening sessions with high school students across the country, focusing on schools where students led walkouts protesting their schools’ failure to respond appropriately to reports of sexual violence.
“It was vital for us to engage students in this process. Students are the experts on what is needed from schools to ensure gender-based discrimination and harassment do not interfere with their education,” said Executive Director Noreen Farrell. “While we are heartened to see the reforms proposed by the Department of Education, we will always push for greater protections for our nation’s most vulnerable students, including students of color, LGBTQI+ students, and victims of sexual violence.”
“The new regulations could do even more to protect these students by clearly establishing prohibited forms of harassment that are unique to anti-LGBTQI+ discrimination.” – Staff Attorney Kel O’Hara
ERA’s comments, which incorporate feedback from the high school listening sessions with students, applaud the increased protections proposed by the Biden Administration and call for additional protections that have not yet been proposed. Specifically, the comments call for additional protections in K-12 schools — which continue to be neglected in conversations about sexual violence — and for LGBTQI+ students, especially given the current unprecedented volume of attacks by state governments on transgender and nonbinary children.
“LGBTQI+ students nationwide are being attacked and discriminated against for simply being who they are, and need legal protection now. We strongly support the DoE’s decision to define sex discrimination as including anti-LGBTQI+ discrimination under the proposed regulations,” said Staff Attorney Kel O’Hara. “However, the new regulations could do even more to protect these students by clearly establishing prohibited forms of harassment that are unique to anti-LGBTQI+ discrimination, such as misgendering students, refusing to use their lived name, and non-consensually disclosing their LGBTQI+ identity to others (or ‘outing’ them).”
Other recommendations from ERA include:
- Requiring trauma-informed training for all school employees involved in the Title IX process
- Protections for students who choose to speak out publicly about the sexual violence, harassment, or gender discrimination they experienced
- Options for high school students to consult a school employee confidentially about an incident without mandating an official Title IX report
- For college and higher education, eliminating live cross-examination (interrogation) at Title IX hearings, which is very often retraumatizing for the survivor; and lowering the evidence standard, which was raised under the Trump Administration, making it often impossible to “prove” the sexual assault/harassment occurred
A national expert on Title IX for 50 years, ERA successfully challenged “no girls” rules in school sports before Title IX even went into effect. The organization historically has and continues to lead cases clarifying that Title IX’s purpose of protecting students from gender discrimination in education includes discrimination against LGBTQI+ students, as well as protection from gender-based violence that interferes with their education, including sexual harassment and assault.
Equal Rights Advocates fights for gender justice in workplaces and schools across the country. Since 1974, we have been fighting on the front lines of social justice to protect and advance rights and opportunities for women, girls, and people of all gender identities through groundbreaking legal cases and bold legislation that sets the stage for the rest of the nation.