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WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Trump-Pence administration released a policy that weakens Title IX protections for sexual assault survivors, increases protections for those accused of sexual assault, and lessens the responsibilities that schools have to protect their students. In an world where 77 percent of sexual assaults go unreported, this new rule will make it even harder for survivors of sexual violence to come forward. This is the latest in a series of attacks on sexual and reproductive health by this administration — including issuing a rule to allow employers to deny birth control coverage to their employees, attempting to eliminate the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, and repeatedly trying to block patients from care at Planned Parenthood health centers.

Planned Parenthood Generation Action student activists are fighting back. When the Department of Education (DOE) posts the rule to the official federal register, there will be a 60-day comment period for the public to weigh in. Planned Parenthood Generation Action groups will organize their classmates to flood the DOE and Secretary of Education Betsy Devos with their stories and assessments of the rule to highlight the need for strong campus protections for survivors of sexual assault.

Statement from Nick Savelli, Associate Director, Youth Organizing, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

This move by the Trump-Pence administration leaves students who report sexual assault without a roadmap to justice. Instead of fighting the culture that has allowed an epidemic of sexual assault to spread on college campuses, Betsy DeVos is perpetuating it by protecting perpetrators over survivors. Students won’t stand for this threat to their health, safety, and education, and they won’t be fighting alone. Planned Parenthood will continue to support and resource young people as they advocate for themselves and their community.

This proposed rule would fail survivors of sexual assault in several ways, including:`

  • Allowing colleges and universities to apply a more onerous standard than used under both the Obama and Bush administrations for proving assault — a standard that many survivors will be unable to meet
  • Narrowing the definition of sexual harassment and assault, making it less likely that reports of sexual violence will be investigated or pursued
  • Making it easier for religious colleges and universities to claim an exemption from Title IX and their duty to protect students
  • Allowing colleges and universities to refuse to investigate sexual assault cases that occur off campus or cases that weren’t formally reported
  • Allowing accused perpetrators the option of cross-examining survivors in school disciplinary settings
  • Barring schools from being required to provide financial support to students to offset the severe economic costs of sexual assault

Young people have been front and center during our nation’s reckoning with sexual assault. During the nomination process for Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Planned Parenthood Generation Action students across the country mobilized in solidarity with survivors of sexual violence. During a Youth Day of Action, students on more than 20 campuses hosted phone banks, hosted letter writing parties, held rallies, and organizing office walk-ins to demand that their senators reject Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Planned Parenthood Generation Action, a project of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, is committed to building a robust, national network of young leaders and giving them the tools needed to create change through a range of national campaigns, conferences, and leadership opportunities. Through Generation Action and its network of more than 350 campus groups, young organizers and activists across the country organize events on their campuses and in their communities to mobilize advocates for reproductive freedom.

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational, advocacy and electoral activity, including grassroots organizing, legislative advocacy, and voter education.

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