National Partnership for Women & Families

‘Deplorable Action’ by Education Department Threatens Progress in Stopping Sexual Assault Against Students, Holding Perpetrators Accountable

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
WASHINGTON, D.C. — September 22, 2017 —

“What the U.S. Department of Education did today in reversing a guidance that was helping schools and universities more effectively prevent sexual violence and hold perpetrators accountable is shameful, harmful and a giant and unnecessary step backward for our country. This action could have a devastating impact on students and survivors of violence. It is truly deplorable.

Every school has an obligation to aggressively protect its students and to advance justice when any student is assaulted. Too often, that simply has not happened even though, under Title IX, schools and colleges have an obligation to investigate sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape, and to support survivors so they can get an education. While many schools and universities failed to do that, sexual violence has become a pervasive problem that has too often gone unchecked. In 2011, the Obama administration took badly needed action to address that, issuing a guidance that was beginning to make a difference.

Today, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded that guidance, substituting a disastrous interim replacement that would allow schools to address sexual violence in ways that favor the accused. There is simply no excuse for this. We urge school and university leaders to continue efforts to enhance safety and prevent violence, and to ensure that all survivors have a real chance at justice.”

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.

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