Students have been wrestling with enormous change this Spring. A global health pandemic, exacerbated by racial inequities, has upended their schooling while threatening their families’ lives and economic viability. In the wake of relentless anti-Black police violence, they’re rising up to demand change in the systems that have ensured centuries of institutionalized racism and white supremacy.
In this climate, Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration have imposed a new hurdle: obstacles to reporting sexual harassment and assault in their schools.
The new rules under Title IX, which is intended to protect people in educational programs from discrimination based on sex, will make schools less safe for survivors.
The rule changes will hurt those most marginalized, including transgender students, who are at a higher risk of sexual violence than all other students, Native American women, who are at the greatest risk of sexual violence, and Black women, who have long been silenced about sexual violence because of historical oppression and racist stereotypes.
So, along with a coalition of allies who also support student survivors of sexual harassment and assault, we’re suing.
The rules are illegal because they violate the Administrative Procedure Act and the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. Among other harms, they will:
Stop students from reporting until harassment is so severe it threatens their ability to successfully learn
Keep schools from investigating sexual harassment outside official school programs
Harm survivors by creating unfair proceedings, such as live hearings and cross-examination, that favor perpetrators and can retraumatize survivors
Legal Voice is excited to join as a plaintiff in the suit alongside Equal Rights Advocates, Victim Rights Law Center, and the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation.
Our coalition is represented by the National Women’s Law Center, Morrison & Foerster, and Diane Rosenfeld of Harvard Law School in her individual capacity.
Survivors deserve to tell their stories, safeguard their educational opportunities, and thrive at school. So, we'll see you in court, Betsy DeVos!