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Title IX

is a law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools; the Trump-Pence administration weakened its sexual assault protections

Learn more about sexual assault in America, including what Planned Parenthood Generation activists are doing about it

Why It Matters

  • As U.S. Education Department Secretary, Betsy DeVos finalized rules that took the teeth out of Title IX’s role in combatting sexual violence.

  • Title IX is the federal law that makes sex discrimination in education illegal. 

  • The Trump administration’s changes gave more rights to people accused of committing sexual assault and harassment at schools — instead of survivors.

  • The changes also made it more difficult for survivors to present their cases and could deter them from reporting.

Key Players

Donald Trump

President of the United States

Elected to Office: 11-8-2016
Betsy DeVos

Secretary of Education

Nominated by Trump: 11-23-2016
Mike Pence

Vice President of the United States

Elected to Office: 11-8-2016
Jeff Sessions

Former U.S. Attorney General (DOJ)

Resigned: 11-07-2018
William Barr

U.S. Attorney General (DOJ)

Nominated by Trump: 1-3-2019

Where We Are & How We Got Here


The Impact: The Trump administration’s Title IX changes are expected to further harm sexual assault survivors, potentially traumatizing them and discouraging them from reporting assaults

  • 12-9-2020
    Over 100 gender equity and civil rights advocacy groups call on the incoming Biden-Harris administration to rescind the Trump administration’s Title IX regulations
  • 5-6-2020
    The Education Department issues the final rule under Title IX, weakening the law’s protections for sexual assault survivors in schools
  • 1-31-2020
    The Education Department begins review of 124,000 public comments on Title IX — which is about 20 times the number of comments usually submitted for a big regulatory proposal
  • 11-16-2018
    DeVos officially proposes weakening Title IX protections against sexual assault
  • 10-2-2018
    Trump calls for sympathy for men accused of sexual assault
  • 9-22-2017
    DeVos announces plans to roll back Title IX protections
  • 7-17-2017 
    DeVos meets with men who said they’d been falsely accused of rape

“The final rule makes it harder for survivors to report sexual violence, reduces schools’ liability for ignoring or covering up sexual harassment, and creates a biased reporting process that favors respondents and schools over survivors’ access to education.”

Rape is the Most Underreported Crime — 77% of All Sexual Assaults Go Unreported

Survivors of sexual harassment and assault need more — not fewer — protections. Shame, self-doubt, fear of retaliation, and distrust in the justice system already contribute to the fact that less than 23% of all sexual assaults get reported, and that only 20% of female student survivors age 18-24 report to law enforcement. Among reported cases, only a fraction lead to arrests, let alone trials. These fears can keep victims silent for years.

Background on Title IX

The 4 Main Changes to Title IX

The administration’s rules, announced on May 6, 2020: 1) Narrowed the definition of sexual harassment; 2) Reduced a school’s responsibility to investigate sexual assault claims, including off-campus events; 3) Let accused students bring lawyers to cross-examine survivors in hearings; 4) Allowed schools to choose their own standard of evidence.

NBC News
Putting K-12 and College Students at Risk

The changes don’t affect just colleges. Title IX protects against gender-based discrimination — including harassment and bullying of LGBTQ students — at all K-12 schools that receive federal funds.

The Atlantic
Following Trump’s Anti-Survivor Rhetoric

Around the time that the Title IX rollback was announced, Trump decried sexual assault allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh: “It’s a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of,” Trump said.

Not Believing Survivors of Sexual Assault

Trump has frequently criticized and cast doubt upon survivors who publicly share their stories. He said that women who share stories of sexual assault often want “fame” or “money” and aren’t telling the truth. Similar concerns have been echoed by others close to Trump, including First Lady Melania Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

Vanity Fair
Hurting LGBTQ+ and Black Students

The rollback of Title IX sexual assault protections particularly threatens transgender students; Black women; and women who are lesbian, bisexual, or gay. These groups experience sexual assault on college campuses at higher rates than white, cisgender, heterosexual women.

Human Rights Campaign
Buddying Up with Men’s Rights Activists

Before Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced plans to roll back Title IX, she had high-profile meetings with men’s rights groups — the same groups that rallied behind Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination when he was accused of sexual assault.

Rewire News
The Agenda: Protecting Perps, Doubting Survivors

The changes to Title IX were part of the Trump-Pence administration’s vocal interest in protecting men accused of sexual assault and removing protections from survivors. The rules also continued President Trump and the administration’s pattern of casting doubt upon survivors of sexual assault.

The New Yorker

Related Issues

Federal Judges

LGBTQ+ Rights