Despite a year of a year of significant opposition from civil rights groups, educational institutions, and survivor advocacy organizations like YWCA Dayton, the U.S. Department of Education announced a rule that will substantially weaken Title IX, rolling back important protections for student survivors of sexual harassment and assault.
“The new Title IX rules and regulations will potentially have a very traumatic effect on survivors,” said Megan Garrison, sexual assault program educator.
While the new Title IX campus sexual assault regulations do introduce new protections that, for the first time ever, include sexual harassment in the scope of the sex discrimination law, they also raise the bar of proof for sexual misconduct and allow those accused of sexual assault to cross examine their accusers.
“The process of reporting sexual violence is already a harrowing experience that re-traumatizes survivors; this will make it much more difficult,” Garrison said, noting that only 20 percent of college-aged women ever report sexual assault to law enforcement and for every 15 Black women who experience rape, only one reports it. “This opens the door for survivors to be cross examined by their abuser’s counsel even while continuing to attend school with their abuser. We will likely see even less reporting from survivors who are not willing to put themselves through the process where they can be victim blamed after experiencing such sexual trauma.”
That process is key, adds Emily Durand, rural prevention educator, particularly for students in non-urban communities.
“One significant component of these new regulations is that they force Title IX processes to align with police reporting and court processes, whereas before, Title IX was meant to remove the burdens of legality from these student conduct issues to ensure equal opportunity. Those in rural communities tend to have fewer resources already, including for K-12 institutions, and these new regulations are enforcing an extra burden on rural schools to use their resources towards these new processes,” she said.
YWCA Dayton staff provide more than 100 community outreach presentations and trainings every year to companies, nonprofits, schools, and more, many through our sexual assault and prevention education programs. A free, virtual six-week Sexual Assault Prevention Education course begins June 8; sign up HERE, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a future presentation. If you, or someone you know, has experienced sexual violence, YWCA Dayton can help. 24/7 Crisis Hotline: 937-222-SAFE.