Stop 2020 Title IX Changes in Scarsdale

Stop 2020 Title IX Changes in Scarsdale

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Sign this petition to raise awareness in our community and demand our Board of Education act meaningfully. Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prevents sex-based discrimination in K-12 schooling and most colleges. It requires schools to work proactively towards gender equality and maintain established procedures against sexual harassment and sexual violence. On May 6, Secretary of Education Betsy Devos imposed new Title IX regulations that are incredibly discriminatory to survivors and diminish their rights. Please sign the petition to demand the Board to not comply with the discriminatory aspects of the new Title IX regulations. 

Under these changes, in order for an act to be considered sexual harassment, it must be “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” (Gersen). If an act is severe and objectively offensive, but not pervasive, the accused cannot be convicted. By using the conjunction “and'' rather than “or”, they allow abusers to escape justice and potentially continue their predatory behavior. This change also greatly reduce schools’ obligation to act against sexual harassment. Schools are able to more easily “ignore cases of sexual violence and sweep sexual assault under the rug,” as the rules mandate that schools “dismiss complaints” that do not meet the Title IX definition of sexual harassment, even when the accusations are proved to be true. (knowyourix)

Colleges and universities will also allow students to cross-examine the accuser in a live hearing. Cross-examination can be used to harass Title IX initiators through embarrassing and disempowering questions. They can bring the discussion to what the accuser was wearing, which detracts from the real conversation. It is predicted that the requirement for cross-examination will lead to a 50% drop in misconduct reporting due to its potentially traumatizing nature (Kreighbaum). 

Betsy Devos is notoriously unqualified as a Secretary of Education, with a history of eliminating protections for vulnerable children, cutting federal funding for education, and rolling back sexual assault guidelines (National Education Association). Implementing Title IX changes in the middle of a pandemic and nation-wide protests passes discriminatory legislation while not under public scrutiny. These nine policies will advocate for and ensure the protection of survivors’ rights in educational spaces:

  1. Establishing the preponderance of the evidence as to the standard of evidence in all sexual misconduct, harassment, and discrimination cases. A preponderance of the evidence is the only standard that values the education of both complainants and respondents equally
  2. Maintaining a time limit of sixty calendar days for the completion of sexual misconduct, harassment, and discrimination case adjudications, with exceptions only for substantial extenuating circumstances. Lengthy investigations are emotionally taxing on survivors, often causing students to drop-out before their cases are complete. Drawn-out timelines are bad for complainants and respondents alike, leaving them uncertain of where things stand with their schools
  3. Continuing to respond promptly to reports of sexual misconduct and carrying out existing investigations into sexual misconduct during the global health crisis. The new rule makes clear that Title IX processes may continue remotely in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the rights of student complainants and respondents alike hinge on schools’ maintaining their commitment to prompt and equitable investigations even during these unprecedented times
  4. Guaranteeing all students access to reasonable interim measures regardless of where or when the violence or discrimination they faced took place. Students need access to accommodations as the effects of violence and discrimination are serious whether a student was harmed at school, at a weekend social event, or on their walk home
  5. Creating and following sexual misconduct procedures for investigating instances of otherwise not covered off-campus violence and violence that occurs outside of the country. While the rule does not allow formal Title IX investigations of some off-campus violence, schools can still create separate sexual misconduct policies that ensure students can report off-campus violence. Whether you are raped in your on-campus classroom or at a weekend birthday party, having to see your rapist in the hallway at school equally interrupts your education
  6. Barring the use of informal resolution mechanisms including but not limited to mediation in cases of sexual assault, rape, dating, and domestic violence, and stalking that is an extension of such violence. It is widely agreed upon that mediation is an inappropriate and even unsafe measure in these types of situations
  7. Following the Department of Education’s rescinded 2016 guidance on protecting LGBTQ+ students in order to ensure all students have equal access to a safe learning environment, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation
  8. Providing immediate training of students on online sexual harassment. When the school moves online due to COVID-19, sexual harassment does not go away. Sexual harassment moves online as well. It is important for the school to set specific boundaries on what is considered online sexual harassment and educate their students on how to identify it, how to react to it, and what to do to report it.
  9. Electing some students of Scarsdale High School as Title IX officers to represent their schoolmates, their rights, and their views. These students will work on educating other students about online sexual harassment and about their Title IX rights. 

- Vivian Guo, Stephanie Sung, and 18 other SHS students 



(National Education Association)