The Attack on Title IX

November 15, 2018
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.

Credit: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Gage Skidmore. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The U.S. Department of Education is working to systematically dismantle Title IX protections. After rescinding critical guidance documents in September 2017, the Department of Education has now announced a plan to make sweeping changes to Title IX’s regulations, which would have significant implications for students’ civil rights and for federal enforcement of the law.


Protect and Strengthen Title IX

We can’t let the Department of Education weaken Title IX. Add your name today to oppose the changes, and to learn more about how you can help fight back.

In September 2017, the Department of Education rescinded two important documents related to Title IX: the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter on Sexual Violence and a 2014 Q&A on Title IX and Sexual Violence, which had provided much-needed clarification about what Title IX requires schools to do to prevent and address sex discrimination in educational programs. Specifically, these documents gave critical guidance to schools about their legal obligations under Title IX to respond promptly and fairly to allegations of sexual assault, and set forth guidelines for how to handle these allegations.

At the same time it withdrew these documents, the Department of Education issued a new interim guidance on Title IX. These rollbacks paved the way for the current attempt to further erode the protections of Title IX, announced in the November 2018 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

What Does This Mean for Women and Girls?

Make no mistake — the Department of Education’s actions amount to a blatant rollback of strong and necessary protections for students, and particularly for student survivors of sexual assault. Specifically, the November 2018 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would weaken Title IX’s protections by narrowing the definition of sexual harassment to potentially exclude much of the abuse students experience and altering when schools will respond to reports of sexual harassment and violence. In addition, the rule would put in place school processes that make it harder for students to come forward and receive the support they need when they experience sexual harassment or assault. Title IX protects all students from discrimination — students of all genders, from kindergarten through college — and these expansive changes would put those protections at risk.

AAUW stands with survivors and we remain committed to protecting and defending Title IX, and to pursuing its vigorous enforcement. We must ensure our nation’s dedication to full and equal educational opportunities for all students. After all, students’ access to education is on the line.

Taking Action

Over the next 60 days, we have an opportunity to weigh in with the Department of Education on their proposed changes. It’s crucial that advocates speak up — loudly — and fight back against any attacks on Title IX that attempt to diminish students’ protections.

We can’t let the Department of Education weaken Title IX. Add your name today to oppose the changes, and to learn more about how you can help fight back.



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Deborah J. Vagins By:   |   November 15, 2018