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Congresswoman Speier, Democratic Leadership Unveil Bill to Defend Title IX Protections for Sexual Assault Survivors

October 12, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) was joined today by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Women’s Working Group Chair Lois Frankel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Bobby Scott, and other Democratic Members of Congress to unveil her new bill to codify Title IX protections for sexual assault survivors. The introduction of H.R. 4030, The Title IX Protection Act was prompted by the egregious decision by the Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to rescind the Department’s 2011and 2014 guidance, which clarified schools’ responsibilities under Title IX.

“Today, we introduced The Title IX Protection Act for one reason: We aren’t going back. We aren’t going back to a time when women who were raped were too afraid to come forward because no one believed them, or because the system was rigged to sweep their cases under the rug. We aren’t going back to a time where a woman could be violated and her university would make pitiful excuses about being unable to take her side over her attacker’s side or, worse yet, blame the survivor for her assault because of so-called honor code violations. Going to a party, having a drink, or letting a date into your room isn’t a crime. And the law is clear: students have the right to an education free from discrimination and sexual violence. We are calling today on Sec. DeVos and the Trump Administration to respect the law and these basic civil rights.”

The Title IX Protection Act codifies into law guidance released under the Obama, George W. Bush, and Clinton Administrations to provide clarity for schools and students regarding what schools are required to do under Title IX to prevent and respond to sexual harassment, including sexual violence. H.R. 4030 is needed because Secretary DeVos’ recent actions allow schools to discriminate against survivors, contradict long-standing Department precedent, and have already caused confusion for schools and students.

Rep. Speier’s bill reiterates and codifies portions of the 2001 Guidance, 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, and 2014 Question and Answers document to address these issues. For example, it codifies the use of the “preponderance of evidence” standard in Title IX grievance proceedings. This is the same standard used in civil rights law, and in most civil suits, even in civil suits that could be considered criminal in nature, such as wrongful death. It also reiterates the need for adequate, reliable, and impartial investigations of complaints. This includes making sure the investigations are prompt and adhere to a 60-calendar day time frame. Furthermore, the bill reaffirms the rights of the survivor to confidentiality. It also clarifies the circumstances under which mediation and cross examination – which have been shown to be intimidating and cause even further trauma for survivors – are not appropriate and offers alternatives. Finally, it reiterates the rights of both the complainant and respondent, such as if a school offers the right to appeal or access to counsel, it must do so for both parties. Additional provisions can be found in the text of the bill, which be viewed here. A one-page summary of the bill can be found here.

In unveiling the bill, Leader Pelosi and Reps. Speier, Frankel, and Scott were joined by the following Members of Congress: Judy Chu, Susan Davis, Pramila Jayapal, Ann McLane Kuster, Carolyn B. Maloney, Jan Schakowsky, and Mark Takano. Organizations present included The National Women’s Law Center, The American Association of University Women, Know Your IX, End Rape on Campus, Girls Inc., Futures Without Violence, The Human Rights Campaign, Feminist Majority Foundation, The National Partnership for Women and Families, and The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.