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Over 200 groups call on Education Department to release Title IX rule by law’s 50th anniversary

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Dive Brief:

  • More than 200 education and civil rights groups are calling on the U.S. Department of Education to release its Title IX regulatory proposal by June 23, the 50th anniversary of the law. 
  • Title IX bars sex-based discrimination in colleges and K-12 schools. It also protects students against sexual violence. The Biden administration’s new rule will dictate how colleges must investigate and potentially punish such misconduct. 
  • The organizations in a letter to the Education Department on Wednesday drew attention to the fact that the agency has delayed issuing the rule, having initially targeted an April 2022 release date.

Dive Insight:

Title IX has experienced a massive federal policy overhaul over the past 11 years, after the Obama administration published guidance in 2011 largely credited with bringing new awareness to the issue of campus sexual assault. 

However, the Obama administration guidance garnered criticism the federal government was pressuring colleges and threatening to revoke their federal funding if they didn’t find students accused of sexual violence responsible for such conduct. 

Civil liberties and men’s rights activists decried the policies, arguing students’ due process rights were under siege. 

Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who referred to colleges’ Title IX procedures as “kangaroo courts,” revoked the Obama guidance in 2017 and replaced it with a rule that took effect in August 2020. 

To the chagrin of sexual assault survivor activists, that Trump-era regulation devised a judiciary-like hearing for evaluating sexual violence claims. During these hearings, accused students and their accusers are allowed to question each other through an adviser. 

The rule also narrowed the scope of cases colleges needed to investigate. 

President Joe Biden has long promised to unravel the regulation, and the Education Department in December formally announced it would do so. 

However, it has twice delayed releasing the draft rule, which is expected to offer new protections for transgender students, a first for a Title IX regulation. 

The 200-plus organizations, led by the National Women’s Law Center, said it is particularly important that the department clarify Title IX’s safeguards for LGBTQ students. 

“In recent months, state lawmakers and officials across the country have enacted unprecedented laws and policies — grossly inconsistent with Title IX — banning students from school restrooms and sports, censoring discussion of their very existence, and punishing adults who seek to help protect their health and safety,” the groups wrote. 

They reiterated the current rule damages sexual assault survivors and that pushing back a new one will have consequences. 

Policy experts have said delaying the rule’s release could result in Congress overturning the rule using the Congressional Review Act, should Republicans take the majority after November’s midterm elections. The Congressional Review Act allows federal lawmakers to strike down major regulations within 60 days of final rules being submitted to the chambers.

The Education Department did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.


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