Post submitted by Jordan Dashow, former Federal Policy Manager
Earlier today, HRC staff joined members of congress and allies on the Hill to condemn Secretary DeVos’ rescission of key Title IX protections for sexual assault survivors and to unveil a new bill, the Title IX Protection Act, to defend these protections. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), the lead sponsor of the Title IX Protection Act, and the leadership of the Democratic Women’s Working Group spearheaded the press conference.
The Title IX Protection Act would codify into statute the 2011 guidance and 2014 Question and Answers (Q&A) guidance on sexual violence issued by the Obama Administration and the 2001 guidance on sexual harassment issued by the Clinton Administration and reissued in 2006 under the George W. Bush Administration. These guidance documents made clear that schools have an obligation to respond to sexual harassment and violence and ensured equal rights for survivors and respondents.
In addition, the Obama-era Q&A explicitly mentioned LGBTQ students and stated that the “actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the parties [involved in an incident of sexual misconduct] does not change a school’s obligations.” Meanwhile, a new Q&A on Campus Sexual Misconduct issued by Secretary DeVos erases all mentions of LGBTQ students and schools’ obligations to students of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
LGBTQ people are disproportionately affected by sexual assault and harassment, and the stigma that many LGBTQ people face can make it more difficult for survivors to report. Studies suggest that nearly half of bisexual women have been raped and half of transgender people will experience sexual violence at some point in their lifetimes. According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a national survey of high school students, lesbian and bisexual women and gay and bisexual men experienced higher rates of sexual assault than their straight counterparts. In addition, a 2015 study by the Association of American Universities found that 60 percent of gay and lesbian students and nearly 70 percent of bisexual students report being sexually harassed on campus.
HRC was proud to join Rep. Speier, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Chair of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), Ranking Member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), and other members of Congress and coalition partners at this important press conference. HRC applauds their leadership and urges Congress to pass the Title IX Protection Act in order to ensure that schools have equal and fair processes dealing with sexual violence so survivors of all gender identities and sexual orientations can seek justice in an unbiased process.