U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants to reshape Title IX to gut protections for survivors of sexual assault. We won’t let her.
Since she joined the Trump-Pence administration, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has made it her mission to weaken protections for survivors of sexual assault and those who experience sexual harassment at schools. Her plan of action? Gutting Title IX, the 1972 federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.
Last month, the administration announced proposed changes to the law. These changes would give more rights to people accused of committing sexual assault and harassment at schools and weaken a school’s responsibility to protect its students.
This is the opposite of what we need. According to RAINN, 23 percent of undergraduate women and 5.4 percent of undergraduate men experience rape or sexual assault. Twenty-one percent of transgender, genderqueer, and nonconforming college students have been sexually assaulted.
Speak Out! Tell the Administration to Protect Survivors
We have time to act — and we need to do so quickly. There’s a 60-day public comment period for the administration’s proposal, and it ends January 30. Legally, the government has to review every single unique comment. So let’s flood them with comments! Our partners End Rape on Campus and Know Your IX are leading the charge.
How Do the Proposed Changes to Title IX Affect Survivors of Sexual Assault?
The administration’s changes would affect all schools that receive public funds. That includes k-12 schools as well as colleges and universities.
Already, 77 percent of sexual assaults go unreported. The proposed changes would make it even more difficult for survivors of sexual violence to come forward. The widespread changes would
Let schools set a tougher standard for proving harassment or assault — which many survivors wouldn’t be able to meet and could deter reporting;
Allow schools to refuse to investigate sexual assault cases that take place off campus — even though 87 percent of college students and almost all K-12 students live off campus;
Let students cross-examine each other directly — something the Obama administration banned in order to minimize re-traumatization;
Narrow the definition of sexual harassment and assault, which for decades has been defined as any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, so many cases can no longer be described as such.
The Proposed Title IX Changes are Part of the Administration’s Larger Effort to Silence Survivors
Since joining the administration, DeVos has shown strong support for men’s rights activists and people who claim that women falsely accused them of rape. She’s not alone. President Trump has also been vocal in casting doubt upon survivors who report sexual assault.
Trump said that women who share stories of sexual assault often want fame or money and aren’t telling the truth. He mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who bravely shared allegations of sexual assault against Trump’s then-Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. And he claimed that the #MeToo movement has created a “very scary time for young men in America.”
Others close to Trump have echoed his interest in dismissing survivors of sexual assault and protecting the accused. First Lady Melania Trump recently said that women should have to show “hard evidence” to prove that they were sexually assaulted. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders made a plea to protect her sons from people who report sexual assault. Donald Trump Jr. mocked Dr. Blasey Ford, equating her story of sexual assault to an elementary school crush.
The Trump-Pence administration's attack on Title IX and survivors of sexual assault also fits into the growing list of administrative attacks on our sexual and reproductive health and rights. That includes trying to let our bosses deny us birth control coverage and taking away civil rights protections for transgender people.
How You Can Help Fight It
Since the federal government has to review unique comments, you can help by writing a detailed comment. This is how we’ve won before: by slowing down the process as much as possible, educating people about the problem, and getting more legislators to pay attention.
The deadline to submit a comment to the administration is January 30, 2019.
Already Submit a ~Detailed~ Comment? Take it a Step Further!
Since this rule will impact so many members of your community, consider taking more action.
- Host a comment writing party! Check out this excellent guide by End Rape on Campus and Know Your IX on how to engage your campus or community.
- Share stories by survivors of sexual harassment and assault. Personal stories are a powerful way to show the harm and real-life effects of the administration’s proposal. Organize a survivor speak-out, lead a rally, or write letters to the editor.
- Connect with Planned Parenthood Generation Action! We have more than 350 Planned Parenthood Generation Action chapters on campuses across the country. Join a Planned Parenthood Generation Action chapter to see what programming they’re doing to support and empower survivors. If your campus doesn't have a chapter, consider starting one!