Fighting for Women's Equality

Statement: Response to Leaked Draft of DeVos’s New Proposed Title IX Rules

August 31, 2018 | by

Legal and Advocacy Groups Suing Trump Administration for Unlawful Title IX Rollbacks Respond to DeVos’s Proposal to Further Harm Student Survivors of Sexual Assault and Harassment

In response to preliminary reports that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is preparing to introduce harmful new policies on campus sexual misconduct that would make it harder for student survivors of sexual harassment and violence to seek and obtain protections, national public interest organizations Equal Rights Advocates, SurvJustice, and Victim Rights Law Center— represented by Democracy Forward, the National Center for Youth Law, and the National Women’s Law Center— issue the following statement outlining the impact of the reported Title IX proposals their active lawsuit challenging the Administration’s earlier rollback of Title IX protections:

It is clear that Secretary Devos is planning to launch another attack on gender equity and civil rights in education.

The draft proposed new rules, would undo decades of civil rights progress with these alarming suggestions:

  1. Schools could refuse to investigate sexual assaults that occur off-campus — ignoring the reality that many incidents of assault and harassment take place in apartments or university-affiliated fraternity houses.
  2. Students accused of sexual misconduct would be allowed to directly cross-examine the students who reported them. This means a student survivor would have to sit through an interrogation from their assailant.
  3. Finally, and most dangerously out of line with civil rights law, schools would be allowed to require a higher burden of evidence for sexual misconduct cases — higher than what’s used in other student misconduct cases.

Our organizations are challenging the discriminatory animosity that motivated the Administration’s first effort to issue unlawful Title IX policies, and the necessity of our case is vindicated by the fact that many of the items in this leaked draft rule are identical to the ones we filed suit over last year.

“For once, we’d like to see DeVos’s Department of Education actually do its job of defending the civil rights of students, which are critical to their safety and well-being,” said Noreen Farrell, Executive Director. “But the leaked draft of the Department’s proposed policies on campus sexual misconduct suggests that once again, this Administration is committed to protecting schools that fail to meet their duties under federal law to address and prevent harassment and assault. We need fewer Larry Nassers, not more.”

Background

Democracy Forward, along with the National Center for Youth Law and the National Women’s Law Center, filed suit on behalf of plaintiffs SurvJustice, Equal Rights Advocates, and Victim Rights Law Center against the Trump Administration to stop the implementation of new and extreme Title IX guidance, alleging that it is unconstitutionally based on the Administration’s discriminatory beliefs about the credibility of women and girls who report sexual violence. The lawsuit also seeks to reinstate survivor protections revoked by Secretary DeVos. The Trump Administration has since moved to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims, in part, by making the absurd argument that its discriminatory policy actually benefits the organizations who sued over it because it gives them the opportunity to pursue their missions of opposing sex discrimination. The original case, SurvJustice, at al, v. DeVos, et al., was filed in January in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

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