For Immediate Release
Today, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced plans to open a public comment period to inform new federal regulations regarding campus sexual assault to replace the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights 2011 Dear Colleague Letter.
The Dear Colleague Letter clarifies that Title IX requires schools to take reasonable action to ensure survivor safety; have grievance procedures in place for students to file complaints of sex discrimination; including complaints of sexual violence; have training on sexual assault; have Title IX compliance officers and take immediate and appropriate action to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred and what recourse is needed.
STATEMENT BY YWCA USA INTERIM CEO CASEY HARDEN
“Survivors of sexual violence already face incredible obstacles in reporting, receiving justice and staying safe. Any rescission of Title IX protections would only make life more difficult for these students. One-in-four women and countless transgender and gender-non-conforming students are sexually assaulted during their time at college. Secretary DeVos focused on challenges with implementation of the current guidance. Rolling back protections will not fix these challenges, addressing enforcement issues will. Any rollback of protections will only exacerbate these issues. Though DeVos did not focus on younger students, these protections are also crucial to keeping girls in K-12 safe.
“During her remarks, DeVos repeatedly referred to sexual violence as “sexual misconduct,” perpetuated the mythology that survivors lie, and worked to put public sympathies with perpetrators over victims. In doing so, she minimized experiences of survivors and reinforced uninformed public opinion about gender-based violence. This language is intentional and it has a real impact on survivors’ experiences in their schools, in their communities and in the justice system. There are not two equivalent sides to racism and sexism – and certainly not to sexual assault.
“Perpetrators of violence don’t need an additional platform to blame and shame survivors. As such, when the public comment period opens, we encourage everyone who cares about survivors of sexual violence to speak out.”
About YWCA USA
YWCA USA is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen communities. We are one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the nation, serving over 2 million women, girls, and their families.
YWCA has been at the forefront of the most pressing social movements for more than 150 years — from voting rights to civil rights, from affordable housing to pay equity, from violence prevention to health care reform. Today, we combine programming and advocacy in order to generate institutional change in three key areas: racial justice and civil rights; empowerment and economic advancement of women and girls; and health and safety of women and girls.