Statement on Proposed Changes to Title IX Guidance
No student should be denied the chance to go to school and learn because of gender-based harassment, including violence. Yet today, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that this administration will begin a process that could weaken protections for sexual assault survivors in schools. Against the recommendations of survivors themselves, the Department of Education will explore changing current guidance around implementation of Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination in K-12 schools and on college campuses.
Activists from Know Your IX, a survivor-led project of Advocates for Youth which works to empower students to end sexual violence in their schools, have made every attempt to ensure that this Administration hears survivors and sees the real, human impact of their actions. They’ve delivered tens of thousands of petitions, publicly protested, and even met with Department of Education staff.
“We all need to remember that regardless of today’s announcement, Title IX is the law of the land,” said Debra Hauser, President, Advocates for Youth. “Trump and DeVos may have turned their backs on sexual assault survivors, but young people won’t. At K-12 schools and at colleges and universities around the nation, students are working to ensure that their schools comply with Title IX and protect survivors’ rights.”
“Today we heard Betsy DeVos use a concern for ‘fair process’ to justify dismantling existing guidance. We all agree that fair process is fundamental in ensuring equal access to education. And the current guidance already upholds fair process. In fact, the rights provided to accused students under Title IX are more robust than those guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.”
Survivors can’t learn when their rapists sit behind them in math class, or live down the hall of their dorm, especially without accomodations and support from their schools. But too often, schools don’t respect survivors’ rights, provide help, or investigate their reports. Only over the past few years have schools and the federal government stepped up their efforts to enforce student survivors’ civil rights, in large part thanks to survivors who spoke out.
Without robust Title IX enforcement, survivors in K-12 schools and universities will suffer even greater physical and psychological trauma, drop classes or leave school entirely, accrue extra debt from lost semesters, and even lose school-related immigration protections. Women of color and LGBTQ survivors will be hit the hardest. All students will be less safe.
“This is just one more instance of this President’s and this Administration’s contempt for young people’s rights,” said Debra Hauser. “It’s pretty simple: we should all be working to protect the health and ensure the safety of young people, especially those who have experienced the trauma of sexual assault.”
Students who are interested in joining efforts to ensure survivors’ rights on their campuses should visit the Know Your IX website, https://www.knowyourix.org.
For Immediate Release: September 7, 2017 Contact: Emily Bridges, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202 419 3420
About Advocates for Youth:
Advocates for Youth is a 501(c)3 organization that champions efforts that help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Advocates believes it can best serve the field by boldly advocating for a more positive and realistic approach to adolescent sexual health. Advocates focuses its work on young people ages 14-25 in the U.S. and around the globe.