Title IX Needs Your Help — Write a Letter to the Editor

In May, the Department of Education issued a long-anticipated but extremely harmful rule designed to substantially weaken Title IX, rolling back important protections for student survivors of sexual harassment and assault. AAUW vigorously opposed this change for more than a year but schools will have to comply beginning August 14, 2020. Now we need to work together to stop this rule from ever going into effect.

This is where you come in: Commemorate the 48th anniversary of Title IX on June 23rd by writing a letter to the editor!

Letters to the editor and op-eds in local community papers are especially effective communication and advocacy tools. Below we have collected resources on writing, key talking points, and background information on Title IX and the final rule to inform your work. Use these media outreach tools to correct and clarify facts for the public, spur news editors to cover the issue and urge readers to support protecting Title IX.

AAUW advocates were key to the passage of Title IX and we continue to fight today to realize the full promise of the law — take action now to defend students!

Getting Started

Writing a letter to the editor (LTE) or an op-ed is a great way to educate and energize advocates, reach elected officials and spread the word about important issues while calling for change. First, you will need to:

  1. Research the guidelines for your local paper.
  2. Find a local angle: Has your paper covered the topic or published an LTE or op-ed yet? Is there a local campus that will have to comply? Do you know a student survivor who is willing to share their story?
  3. Assume nothing: Do not assume readers know the details about Title IX and be sure to include some concise background on both the topic and proposed changes.
  4. Avoid sending the same letter to competing papers: Select one to submit to and make sure your work is personalized.
  5. End with a call to action: Demand that the rule be rescinded.

Title IX Talking Points

Below we have collected background information and key talking points on Title IX and the final rule to inform your work.

  • Title IX, the landmark civil rights law enacted in 1972, prohibits sex discrimination in any education program or activity that receives federal funds. June 23rd is the 48th anniversary of the enactment of Title IX.
  • Since its passage, opponents have sought to weaken it. Recently, the U.S. Department of Education finalized regulations that will make it harder for students who have experienced sexual harassment or violence to access the protections Title IX was created to provide.
  • This new rule, which goes into effect on August 14, 2020, includes substantive changes that will make it harder for victims to come forward and get the help they need.
  • Sexual harassment is redefined in an inappropriate way that is narrower and more stringent.
  • Schools can subject victims to drawn-out, onerous investigations; coerce victims into participating in mediation with their assailant; and allow victims to be cross-examined in live proceedings.
  • Schools can ignore victim complaints if the harassment occurred at the wrong place — outside of a campus-controlled building or activity — or was reported to the wrong person.
  • By creating additional barriers for students to bring claims forward, the rule will further exacerbate inequities for students who are already at risk.
  • This rule turns back the clock, reversing policies that were put in place to make it easier for survivors to report sexual misconduct. The rule stacks the deck against survivors, making it too onerous — even traumatic — for many to come forward. In short, the rule is antithetical to the fundamental promise of Title IX: that all students deserve access to an education free from sex discrimination.
  • The fact that this rule is to be implemented amidst a global crisis is inappropriate, unrealistic and shameful.
  • I/we urge the Department of Education to rescind this harmful rule and instead focus on prioritizing the safety of all students in this trying time.

Resources

Thank you for supporting Title IX and defending student survivors.