A Step Backward for the Nation
Education Department Action Will Make Schools, Universities Less Safe; Put Justice Farther Out of Reach for Sexual Assault, Rape Survivors
Statement from Kiersten Stewart, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Futures Without Violence
Today’s move by the U.S. Department of Education to rescind the guidance on school-based sexual violence is ill-conceived, dangerous and simply unacceptable.
Since 1972, Title IX has prohibited sex discrimination in education but, for most of that time, America’s schools and colleges have swept sexual assaults under the rug – and the problem has grown. Today, one in five undergraduate young women will experience rape or sexual assault in college. Tens of thousands of girls and boys under age 18 are sexually assaulted each year, often with profound consequences for their ability to complete their education.
The guidance Secretary DeVos rescinded today was starting to change that by promoting a process that required schools to take the issue seriously. It was beginning to make a difference at middle and high schools, as well as colleges and universities across the country. There was no good reason to rescind it.
We strongly encourage leaders at K-12 schools and colleges and universities across the nation to continue the work they are doing to prevent sexual violence in all its forms and to promote justice for survivors. We are gravely concerned about what the Department will replace this guidance with, and stand ready to fight any rollbacks in protections for victims. This step backward for our nation will not go unchallenged.