ERA Decries Trump Administration’s New Title IX Regulations, Urges SB 493 in CA

May 8. 2020


For Immediate Release
May 8, 2020

Media Contact
Jess Eagle, Strategic Communications Manager
Equal Rights Advocates
(717) 574-2702
[email protected]

Sen. Jackson & Victim Advocates Urge Bill to Protect CA Students & Ensure CA Colleges Respond Appropriately to Reports of Sexual Harassment, Assault

SACRAMENTO –As Trump Administration Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rolls back Title IX protections for student survivors of sexual assault and harassment on college campuses in federal regulations released May 7, Equal Rights Advocates, along with California State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) and the Women’s Foundation of California’s Women’s Policy Institute, urge California lawmakers to pass pending Senate Bill 493, which will ensure California colleges provide a transparent and fair process for all students involved in sexual misconduct investigations.

In direct response to the Trump Administrations’ harmful changes to Title IX — the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally-funded schools — SB 493 would require state-funded colleges and universities to adopt common-sense procedures that ensure a fair, transparent and consistent response to reports of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, and protect student victims and survivors from additional harm or re-traumatization.

“Even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump Administration has wasted no opportunity to be misogynistic and cruel.  The recently released Title IX regulations jeopardize the civil rights and safety of student survivors while discouraging others from reporting abuse,” said Senator Jackson. “SB 493 will ensure that California’s educational institutions protect survivors through policies that treat them with dignity and respect, while ensuring the civil rights of all students.”

The Trump Administration’s regulations announced on May 7 would hinder students’ ability to report sexual violence, force schools to dismiss many off-campus complaints where the majority of assaults occur, and require retraumatizing and unnecessary investigatory processes, including direct cross-examination of student survivors. The regulations would, in many cases, raise the standard of evidence from preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not occurred) to “clear and convincing” evidence, which is often impossible to prove in cases of sexual harassment and assault.

Senate Bill 493 would make it easier for students to report sexual harassment and violence by requiring schools to provide notice to students on their rights and how to report incidents; require schools to respond to off-campus incidents where they could interfere with a student’s access to education; and prohibit courtroom-style direct cross-examination of survivors by their assailants or their attorneys. It would also ensure adequate training for school officials involved, including training on implicit bias, trauma-informed practices, and the history of racial discrimination in school discipline.

Studies show at least one in five U.S. women, one in eight men, and one in four trans or gender non-conforming students suffer sexual assault as undergraduates. Equally troubling, 63 percent of students – women and men — report experiencing sexual harassment in college. Schools’ failure to adequately address, investigate, and protect students from sexual violence deprives students of their right to equal access to education. An estimated 34% of student survivors drop out of college.

“SB 493 will ensure that California institutions of higher education adequately address and respond to rampant sexual violence in our schools,” said Jessica Stender, Senior Counsel for Workplace Justice & Public Policy at Equal Rights Advocates, a co-sponsor of the bill. “The required procedures under the bill are common-sense, and they protect all California students’ civil rights and access to education, regardless of rollbacks at the federal level.”

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