THE LATEST: On December 8, 2021, the Women’s Student Union urged the court to reject efforts to end its case against the Department of Education’s Title IX rules. The 2020 regulations narrow the scope of Title IX and limit when the Department of Education can investigate schools for failing to comply with Title IX. The government responded on December 22, 2021, urging the court to dismiss this case. In November 2021, plaintiffs also urged the court to deny an attempt by groups and states seeking to intervene in the case to advance their extreme agenda against students’ rights in court.

WHAT’S NEXT: The court has scheduled a virtual hearing on January 20, 2022, at 1:30 PM (PST).

 

BACKGROUND

Sexual harassment poses a significant obstacle to students’ ability to learn and thrive in school. Students who are sexually harassed by their peers or teachers may avoid school or experience a fall off in their academic performance—often dropping classes or leaving school altogether.

For nearly 50 years, Title IX has equipped students with an important tool to fight sex discrimination and harassment in schools. Title IX requires that schools receiving federal funding ensure that all students have equal access to the resource of public K-12 education, free from sexual harasssment.

In 2020, the Department of Education, under the leadership of then-Secretary Betsy DeVos, issued regulations that weakened key protections for students. The new regulations dramatically scale back the Department’s enforcement role by limiting when a school’s neglect will trigger a mandatory Title IX investigation. As a result, students have lost a valuable resource for compelling their schools to take action against sexual harassment.

The Women’s Student Union (WSU) is an organization of young people who attend school in the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) in Berkeley, California. Because of the 2020 regulations, the federal government has failed to investigate BUSD and requires it to change its policies and practices on important matters related to sexual harassment.

On March 8, 2021, represented by Public Justice, the National Youth Law Center, and Correia & Puth–later joined by Democracy Forward–the WSU challenged several damaging provisions of the Department of Education’s 2020 regulations. WSU is urging the court to strike down those provisions.

John Lewis

Senior Counsel

Litigating challenges to unlawful actions at the federal and state level.

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Karianne Jones

Senior Counsel

Litigating cases on issues involving, among other things, gender justice, civil rights, and workplace justice.

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