May 6, 2020 (New York) – Athlete Ally responded today to Betsy DeVos and the Trump Administration’s newly released Title IX ruling on campus sexual assault. Under this rule, protections for accused perpetrators are prioritized over survivor’s rights and access to justice. We are especially concerned about the implications this has for members of the LGBTQI+ student communities, who face particular risks to sexual violence and barriers to reporting, especially in athletic spaces.
Under this new ruling, which will go into effect in August, schools are allowed to ignore incidents of violence that happen off-campus, including at off-campus housing and during study abroad programs. Definitions of sexual harassment have been narrowed, and survivors who report are required to undergo live cross examination to challenge their credibility.
Fatima Goss Gaves, President of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), said that NWLC intends to fight this ruling in court. “Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration are dead set on making schools more dangerous for everyone — even during a global pandemic,” Ms. Goss Graves said. “And if this rule goes into effect, survivors will be denied their civil rights and will get the message loud and clear that there is no point in reporting assault.”
“We are disheartened by this ruling and its devastating effect on campus sexual assault survivors across the country,” said Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally. “When a survivor is able to come forward, they deserve to be met with kindness and compassion, not hostility and doubt. We continue to stand with survivors, including and especially those in the LGBTQI+ community who are at higher risks of sexual assault.
No campus is safe unless all students are safe. We’re incredibly grateful for those who are working in student activism and athletics to make campuses safer for all, and it’s our honor to work alongside you.”