The Trump administration has issued new Title IX regulations that would make it harder for students who are sexually assaulted to report the assaults. More than 100,000 comments were submitted during the public comment period on the rule, with the vast majority in opposition. Stay tuned for updates and ask Reps. Pingree and Golden to support 3 bills in the House that protect Title IX.
In 2011, the Obama Administration issued a “Dear Colleague” letter, clarifying that sexual harassment, assault, stalking, and other forms of gender-based violence interfere with a student’s right to equal educational opportunities and are therefore covered under Title IX, a civil rights law that bans gender-based discrimination in primary, secondary, and higher education. The letter offered guidance on the steps schools should take to comply with federal law and was hailed by survivor advocacy groups as a significant step toward reducing gender-based violence on college campuses.
In December, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed changes that would reverse these guidelines. Survivor advocates say the Trump administration’s new regulations will make it harder for survivors to come forward, strip Title IX protection from many survivors, and allow schools to lower the standard of proof required for sexual harassment and assault. DeVos’ decision to repeal the Obama-era protections for survivors came after meetings last summer with men’s rights groups and groups that advocate for those accused of sexual harassment and assault. More than 100,000 comments, including many from Mainers, were submitted during the public comment period on the rule, with the vast majority in opposition.
Several bills introduced in the House last year would enshrine many of the Obama-era protections into law, blocking the Trump administration’s efforts to weaken survivor protections. Under the Republican-controlled House, the bills stalled in committee. But Democrats have vowed to bring them forward this term.
- Ask representatives Pingree and Golden to co-sponsor these bills to protect survivors’ rights:
- H.R.4030, the Title IX Protection Act, would enshrine many of the Obama-era protections for survivors into law.
- H.R.6464, the HALT Sexual Violence Act, would allow students and the Department of Education to take legislative or punitive actions against schools that fail to meet campus safety requirements.
- H.R.1949, the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, would require schools to report on their efforts to curb sexual harassment and assault.
- Among undergraduate students, nearly one in four women and just over 5% of men experience sexual assault.
- The proposed new definition for sexual harassment would only require schools to act when sexual violence or harassment completely denies a student access to education, forcing students to endure repeated and escalating levels of abuse without being able to ask their schools for help.
- DeVos’ regulations would prohibit schools from removing perpetrators from dorms or shared classes with survivors unless the survivor wins a disciplinary proceeding.
- The proposed rules would strip Title IX rights from survivors who are assaulted off-campus or outside of a school’s educational programs. 87% of college students live off campus. That number is higher for students K-12. None of these students would be protected under Title IX if the Trump administration’s rules are enacted.
- The proposed rules limit protections to students within the United States. Students doing study abroad or other university programs outside the U.S. would have no Title IX protections under the new guidelines.
- Under the new rules, schools would be able to impose a higher standard of proof for sexual harassment complaints than for complaints of physical assault, creating a double-standard that places different burdens on survivors of similarly serious campus misconduct.
- DeVos’ new regulations would require colleges and universities to provide for live cross-examination by a party’s adviser of choice, further traumatizing survivors.
- The rules would allow schools to delay their own internal investigations if law enforcement is investigating the charges. This could leave survivors unprotected on their campuses for weeks to months while the legal process plays out.