Proposed new rules would make it it harder for students to come forward about sexual harassment or assault and get the support they need.
In 2017, the Department of Education rescinded Obama-era rules that had clarified what Title IX requires schools to do to prevent and address sexual harassment and violence and to protect transgender students.
But in November 2018, the Department of Education issued a new proposed rule that would have significant harmful implications for students’ civil rights and for federal enforcement of Title IX. This would weaken Title IX’s protections by narrowing the definition of sexual harassment to potentially exclude many students’ experiences and by altering when schools must respond to reports of sexual harassment and violence.
Over 100,000 comments were submitted during the public comment period for the proposed changes, including many from AAUW members, supporters and affiliates opposing the proposed rule. The Department of Education is currently considering the submitted comments and finalizing regulations.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for implementing and enforcing of Title IX, its regulations, and its guidance — including prohibiting retaliation for filing a complaint or advocating for those making a complaint. AAUW believes OCR must receive adequate funding to strengthen its Title IX enforcement efforts and advocates thorough investigation of complaints and proactive compliance review.
Title IX Coordinators and GEEA
Title IX requires that every school or university that receives federal funding designate at least one employee who is responsible for coordinating the school’s compliance.
These Title IX coordinators oversee all complaints of sex discrimination and identify and address any patterns or systemic problems at their schools. Unfortunately, Title IX coordinators often lack the support, guidance and training needed to complete their work. Some of the most egregious Title IX violations occur when schools fail to designate a Title IX coordinator or when the Title IX coordinator does not have the training or authority to oversee compliance.
In 2015, OCR released guidance and resources to help Title IX coordinators meet their responsibilities, explaining that schools must have Title IX coordinators who are full-time, independent and provided with the authority and resources they need to maximize compliance. AAUW advocates for these resources to be maintained and for all schools to have a Title IX coordinator, and that the coordinators receive comprehensive training and support.
The Gender Equity in Education Act (GEEA) would provide educational entities and Title IX coordinators the resources, training and technical assistance necessary to ensure equity in education. GEEA also establishes an Office of Gender Equity in the U.S. Department of Education to coordinate interagency enforcement of Title IX.