In June, the Department of Education opened a comment period for the public to provide input on whether the Department of Education should keep, modify, or eliminate rules that protect the civil rights of students of color, women, students with disabilities, pregnant or parenting students, immigrant students, LGBTQ students, and other groups affected by civil rights laws. The deadline to submit a comment to the Department of Education is September 20, 2017.
All of the Departments of Education’s civil rights regulations and many of its guidance documents are being considered during the comment period, including guidance related to campus sexual assault. The Department of Education plays an important role in enforcing civil rights laws that protect students from discrimination on the basis of sex (Title IX); race, color and national origin (Title VI); and disability (Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act, and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). To be effective, however, the federal government must enforce the law, provide oversight, and proactively work to ensure that students’ rights are realized. All of the rules that carry out those roles are being threatened.
Just last week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Department of Education plans to undo the Title IX guidelines put into place in the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter which protects survivors of sexual violence. In a statement, Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal said that DeVos’s remarks, which attacked the Obama Administration’s effort to hold schools accountable for neglecting to appropriately address the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses, demonstrated “a complete lack of understanding of Title IX as well as blatant contempt and disregard for survivors of sexual violence.”
Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 9/8/17, 9/7/17; CNN 9/7/17