Last year, the federal Department of Education issued a plan to make sweeping changes to Title IX’s regulations, which would impact students’ civil rights and federal enforcement of the law.
The federal plan could make it more difficult for students to report incidents of sexual harassment and violence—and easier for schools to ignore them when they do. The U.S. Department of Education announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which would diminish protections under Title IX, the 1972 law that bars gender discrimination at schools and colleges receiving federal funds.
Specifically, the proposed rule would weaken Title IX’s protections by narrowing the definition of sexual harassment, which could exclude much of the abuse students experience. It would also limit how schools will respond to reports of sexual harassment and violence. In addition, the rule would allow processes that make it harder for students to come forward and receive the support they need when they experience sexual harassment or assault.
The proposed rule changes were subject to a 60-day comment period before taking effect. AAUW California joined other states and the national office is objecting to the proposed changes. Alicia Hetman, AAUW California’s Title IX Coordinator and an expert in Title IX issues, composed a letter which we sent to the Department of Education. The letter detailed our opposition to the federal plan. You can read this powerful letter HERE.
Branches were also encouraged to send letters to the DOE and to post letters to the editors of local newspapers.
Totally, AAUW helped to deliver over 100,000 letters from advocates who urged the Department of Education to protect and preserve the Title IX guidance that keeps students safe.
The public comment period on the proposed regulations has ended. But the Department of Education is mandated to respond to all comments submitted. At this time, we are waiting to receive a response and to see what the DOE will do in the light of the many objections voiced.