National Center for Youth Law

At the Center Press Releases

Oral Arguments highlight the Dept of Ed’s attempts to destroy protections for students who experience sexual harassment.
Betsy DeVos's hypocrisy in addressing sexual harassment in schools continues

We sued Betsy DeVos more than 20 months ago about her decision to remove important federal protections for people experiencing sexual harassment, including sexual violence, in schools.  These changes and reversals are based on unfounded generalizations about women and girls, particularly their credibility regarding reported experiences of sexual harassment, including sexual violence. 

With our co-counsel – Democracy Forward and the National Women’s Law Center – we’ve filed hundreds of pages of briefs rebutting the Department of Education’s claims and showing that the policy rollback was unreasoned and arbitrary.

In our brief and today in court, our team argued in front of the federal judge assigned to the case and told the court that the Trump/DeVos decision to revoke the old Title IX guidance and substitute a weaker interim guidance:

  • Failed to consider the interests of students who experienced sexual harassment;
  • Removed schools’ obligation to provide interim remedies for students who complain of harassment;
  • Abandoned any presumptive timelines for promptly investigating and resolving complaints;
  • Permitted schools to offer one-sided appeal rights (to the accused, while excluding the accuser); and 
  • Exposed students to the risk of being coerced into informal mediation for sexual assault claims.

NCYL has also been actively challenging Devos’ proposed Title IX regulations, which are even more flawed than her interim guidance. While most attention has been focused on the effects of sexual assault allegations on college campuses, Title IX also protects children in elementary, middle and high schools. It is ridiculous that DeVos and her Department of Education would seek to strip protections from children as young as 5 years old. NCYL filed an extensive comment earlier this year arguing that the proposed regulations did not address the real problems of students who experienced sexual harassment.  We are waiting to see how DeVos responds.

Maybe you’ve seen press about the Department of Education’s investigations of sexual violence at Michigan State and Chicago Public schools.  Don’t let it fool you.  Even as the Department takes credit for enforcing Title IX, it is trying to cut back on schools’ obligations.   As Seth Galanter, one of NCYL’s Senior Directors explained to a reporter with The 74, DeVos and the Department of Education “seem to be wanting to take credit for fixing things, but they are also dismantling the very requirements that they enforced.”