Wednesday, April 30, 2014

New Federal Guidance on Addressing Sexual Assault and Discrimination

This from the Office for Civil Rights:

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today released new guidance describing the responsibilities of colleges, universities and public schools to address sexual violence and other forms of sex discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. 

The guidelines, highlighted by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault’s new report released earlier Tuesday, provide greater clarity about the requirements of Title IX around this critical issue – as requested by institutions and students.

“For far too long, the incentives to prevent and respond to sexual violence have gone in the wrong direction at schools and on college campuses,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “As interpreted and enforced by the department, Title IX and other federal laws are changing these incentives to put an end to rape-permissive cultures and campus cultures that tolerate sexual assault.”

Included in today’s document are examples of proactive efforts schools can take to prevent sexual violence and remedies schools may use to end such conduct, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects. The frequently asked questions examine critical issues, including when schools should respect students’ request for confidentiality, when schools should take immediate steps to protect students who complain about sexual violence from the alleged perpetrator and potential retaliation, and how to determine whether sexual violence occurred and the appropriate remedies for such violence.  The guidance also clarifies that its terms apply to all students, including lesbian and gay students, transgender students, and undocumented students. 

“Our federal civil rights laws demand that all students – women and men; gay and straight; transgender or not; citizens and foreign students – be allowed to learn and participate in all parts of college life without sexual assault and harassment limiting their opportunities,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights.  “The Office for Civil Rights stands ready to enforce this core principle to ensure all students’ safety in schools.”

OCR issued groundbreaking guidance on the issue of sexual violence and Title IX in 2011, and today’s guidance - “Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence” – further clarifies and expands on that work. The guidance can also be found at NotAlone.gov.

A related “Know Your Rights” document is available in English here and Spanish here.

 

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/education_law/2014/04/new-federal-guidance-on-addressing-sexual-assault-and-discrimination.html

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