Washington, DC – Today, Democratic Women’s Caucus (DWC) Co-Chairs Congresswomen Jackie Speier (CA-14), Lois Frankel (FL-21), and Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), and Vice Chairs Congresswomen Veronica Escobar (TX-16) and Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), submitted written comment to the Department of Education for its June 7-11 public hearing on improving enforcement of Title IX. The formal comment, submitted as a letter, was signed by 74 House Democrats.
As the Department conducts its comprehensive review of existing regulations and other actions related to Title IX, the Members voiced their concerns with the previous administration’s changes, which infringed upon students’ rights to equal access to education, overburdened already-strained schools struggling to cope with the pandemic, and gutted protections for survivors while limiting the circumstances in which schools can respond to and effectively address sexual violence, which is contrary to the letter and spirit of the landmark civil rights law.
“Instead of discouraging survivors from coming forward and enabling a permissive environment for sexual harassment, the Department of Education should pursue regulations that restore longstanding protections and strengthen Title IX,” the Members wrote.
The Members encouraged promulgating several changes that include, but are not limited to:
- Restoring the definition of sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual conduct that includes, but is not limited to, quid pro quo harassment;
- Acknowledging that sex-based harassment includes sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sex-based stalking, and harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, parental status, pregnancy, childbirth, termination of pregnancy, or related conditions; and
- Ensuring fair disciplinary proceedings by requiring schools to use the preponderance of the evidence standard consistent with the standard applied in civil rights lawsuits and in the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights’ investigations, and undo the regulation that prohibits schools from considering any oral or written statements by a party or witness who does not submit to direct, live cross-examination.
Click here for a copy of the letter and complete list of suggested changes.