Proposed Title IX rule will hurt more than just college students


Contact: Blake Warenik; 202-548-0090 x122;

(WASHINGTON)—Title IX is a federal civil rights law that requires elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities to provide students equal access to education. Included in Title IX is the requirement that schools ensure services and safety for students after sexual harassment, including after sexual abuse and assault. A rule change proposed by the US Department of Education would detrimentally alter the process of ensuring services and safety for students.

This rule change has been framed at times as a response to allegations of sexual assault on college campuses. However, Title IX requirements apply to all schools, including K-12 students who attend them. Curtailing Title IX protections would hurt not only young adults in college, but also children in our schools. At National Children’s Alliance, we share with our member Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) grave concerns about how this proposed rule change would impact children in throughout the country who are victims of sexual abuse. The proposed rule change:

  1. Ignores research on the warning signs of child sexual abuse and disregards what we know about prevention.The proposed rule changes the definition of sexual harassment in the law by taking out types of sexual misconduct that don’t rise to the level of severe and pervasive, meaning inappropriate comments online by a teacher or a one-time instance of groping by a peer might not be eligible for a Title IX complaint. We know that for child sexual abuse in particular, abusers use coercion over time to build trust with kids through inappropriate behaviors to accomplish abuse. The rule change would mean schools will no longer be required to provide certain supports to students after they disclose these inappropriate or “grooming” behaviors.
  2. Rolls back research about trauma-informed schools by limiting schools’ requirements for responding to abuse that happens outside the school building.This means that a school has no requirement to provide a student support or accommodations event if a classmate or teacher harassed or assaulted them off campus. We know that the impact of trauma, including sexual trauma, is wide-reaching and long-lasting. When sexual trauma occurs within the family or community, the impact of this on a young person should be taken into consideration at school, and educational institutions should be required to accommodate a student’s learning in these circumstances.
  3. Goes against everything CACs stand for in making abuse investigations more developmentally appropriate and sensitive.Kids will become subject to traumatizing questions and invasive conversations through the proposed rule. The rule allows for an informal mediation process that may be led by an untrained adult. This creates the potential for cross examination of the student by their abuser, which will cause further trauma to the survivor. Additionally, the proposed rule provides schools with the option to raise the evidentiary standard used to determine if abuse or harassment occurred. This will make it less likely that students can receive the services they so desperately need.


Read more from the U.S. Department of Education

NCA, along with our members and national partners, will be providing more information about taking action and participating in public comment about this proposed rule in the near future. Public comments on this rule are due by January 28, 2019. Stay tuned: sign up for our advocacy alerts.