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  WINDY CITY TIMES

People react swiftly to DeVos' changing Title IX guidance
2017-09-11

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The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) was among those groups and individuals who expressed concern over the decision by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to begin a process to rescind 2011 Title IX guidance related to schools' obligations to address sexual harassment, including sexual violence.

While historically known for its impact on women's athletics admissions, Title IX's prohibition on sex discrimination, as a matter of law, also requires schools to address sexual harassment, including sexual violence, as forms of sex discrimination.

Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the HRC, said in a press release: "For the LGBTQ community, which faces disproportionate levels of sexual assault and violence, this decision sends a strong signal that the U.S. Department of Education will not use its full power to protect them from harm."

National LGBTQ Task Force Director of Advocacy and Action Stacey Long Simmons said in a separate press release that the "announcement by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration to revise guidance on campus sexual assault points to a reversal of needed protections, especially for LGBTQ students and students with disabilities. Shame on DeVos and the Trump-Pence Administration for yet another example of their utter disregard for those who are most marginalized."

American Association of University Women CEO Kimberly Churches also weighed in, saying, "Secretary Betsy DeVos' decision to open up Title IX for changes represents a blatant intent to roll back protections for students. It is yet another action by this administration that is at direct odds with upholding the civil rights of all Americans.

"Considering that 89 percent of college campuses disclosed zero reported rapes last year— despite the fact that we know incidents are far more frequent—we should move forward and build on past progress not walk back current protections." Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan also condemned DeVos, saying in a press release, "The Secretary of Education is undermining efforts of schools around the country that have worked to improve their response to incidents of sexual violence on campus. In our state, the Illinois Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act ensures that anyone who experiences sexual assault is heard and supported."

Charles Middleton—a member of the PFLAG board of directors and a former president of Chicago's Roosevelt University—said in a statement, "As someone who spent half a century in higher education and as a retired university president and former dean, I understand first hand the very real issue of sexual violence on campuses. [The] announcement by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that she and the administration will revise the guidance on campus sexual assault will leave universities with less clarity, and make LGBTQ students, students of color, students with disabilities, all students, more vulnerable."


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