Yesterday, the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NTF) stood with survivors of sexual assault and dating violence outside the Antonin Scalia Law School as the U.S. Department of Education announced its shameful intention to roll back protections for survivors under Title IX of Education Amendments Act of 1972. The exclusion of survivors from the event, as well as the choice of venue, lead to the regrettable conclusion that the vital role the federal government has played in ending sexual violence in educational institutions and ensuring effective protection against discriminatory practices and policies that deny equal access to education is no more. Yesterday’s statements by Secretary DeVos send the wrong message to students who look to the Department of Education to have their backs when they are the victims of sexual harassment and violence. This also sends the wrong message to public schools, colleges and universities about their responsibility to enforce Title IX and other civil rights statutes. To be clear, however, Title IX remains the law of the land.
The NTF calls upon Congress to use its oversight authority to ensure that the Departments of Education and Justice continue to fulfill their sworn obligations to safeguard the civil rights of survivors of violence, to ensure that no one is subjected to dating or sexual violence, harassment, discrimination, or denied equitable access to education in a federally funded institution based on their sex, gender identity, religion, race, language proficiency, disability or any other protected category.
We stand ready to work with Congress on a bi-partisan basis –as we always have –to address the needs and concerns of survivors of violence. And we stand committed to the philosophy that a process that does not center the needs of all survivors – women and men, immigrant, LGBTQIA, people of color, and/or disabled — and respect their voices is no process at all.
For more information, contact Lisalyn Jacobs