In yet another terrible action by the Trump Administration, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos today announced her intention to begin rewriting rules related to campus sexual assault.
Speaking at George Mason’s Antonin Scalia Law School, named for the late conservative Supreme Court justice, DeVos said that the Department of Education would revamp Title IX protections for students, and thereby lift schools’ responsibilities to prevent and respond to sexual violence. Her desire to move “quickly, DeVos said, was out of concern for some men who have been unfairly treated when accused of campus rape.
At imminent risk is a 19-page guidance issued by the Obama Administration’s Department of Education which held that sexual harassment and violence is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX. The guidance clearly sets forth schools’ responsibility to take “immediate and effective” proactive and remedial steps to end sexual harassment and sexual violence.
The 2011 guidance spells out that “Title IX protects students from sexual harassment in a school’s education programs and activities. This means that Title IX protects students in connection with all the academic, educational, extracurricular, athletic, and other programs of the school, whether those programs take place in a school’s facilities, on a school bus, at a class or training program “
Campus sexual violence is a core LGBTQ issue. LGBTQ youth are a vulnerable population in school settings – and discrimination and harassment are common. In a 2015 study, the National Center for Transgender Equality reported that 77 percent of its respondents who were out or perceived as transgender during the K-12 school years suffered some form of mistreatment. Fully 54 percent experienced some form of mistreatment, and 24 percent were physically attacked.
Equality California’s Safe and Supportive Schools program is aimed at helping schools implement existing laws that protect LGBTQ students from bullying and violence, and ensuring that schools remain safe and supporting environments.
Valerie Ploumpis is Equality California’s national policy director.