On Thursday, June 10th, ValorUS (VALOR) submitted public comment to the Office of Civil Rights hearing pursuant to Executive Order 14021, Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.
VALOR joins in the concerns raised by several national advocacy organizations, educational institutions, and students themselves who have demonstrated that at its very core, the DeVos regulations have had the effect of discouraging students from reporting sexual assault and other forms of sexual harassment. Furthermore, the new regulations completely contradict the purpose of Title IX as a civil rights law, which is to protect equal access to education, by erecting intimidating and harmful barriers for impacted people at every turn, and replicating a traumatic approach that deprives survivors of their agency and their dignity.
The experience and stress of sexual harassment create significant barriers for student success in school, further exacerbated when a school does not or cannot respond effectively with support for the student. Impacts on students can include serious emotional and mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and substance use and abuse – both in immediate crisis and for several years after. Students may drop out of school because they do not feel safe or may be forced to leave school due to performance issues related to the trauma. In addition to physical and emotional trauma, there are financial burdens as well related to student loans, costs of treatment, and additional expenses of relocation. Student survivors need support and learning environments free of discrimination, else they face devastating life outcomes that are costly and difficult to ever truly overcome.
On behalf of survivors, sexual assault service providers, and the diverse advocates and activists that provide frontline response to sexual assault in our communities, and based on the aforementioned reasons, VALOR strongly encourages President Biden, the Department of Education, and the entire administration to reverse harmful elements of the Title IX regulations that have taken us dangerously backward in our national response to sexual violence. We welcome any opportunity to provide additional input and information toward this effort.
CONTACT: John L. Finley, Policy Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org)