Trump Administration Downplays Senior Official’s Demand that Staff Read Sexist Propaganda Before Considering Title IX Changes

Groups Continue to Push Back on Administration’s Old and Enduring Discriminatory Instinct to Disbelieve Female Survivors

In New Legal Filing, Victim Rights Law Center, Equal Rights Advocates and SurvJustice Detail How Sec. DeVos’s Unlawful Actions Harm Women and Girls

San Francisco, CA—  Last week, on behalf of plaintiffs SurvJustice, Equal Rights Advocates, and Victim Rights Law Center, three public interest organizations — Democracy Forward, the National Center for Youth Law, and the National Women’s Law Center —  responded to the Government’s motion to dismiss their ongoing lawsuit challenging the Department of Education’s discriminatory rollback of Title IX protections for student survivors of sexual assault. In response, the groups reiterated the harms posed to the women and girls each plaintiff represents and highlighted the Administration’s attempt to downplay the insistence of a senior Education Department official that sexist propaganda inform the Administration’s reduction of survivor protections.

During the Administration’s review of Title IX policy, Candice Jackson, current Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Operations and Outreach in the Office for Civil Rights, required staff to read excerpts from a book that described Title IX as protecting women from “sexual bogeymen.” This same book labeled college campuses “a secret cornucopia of accusation,” and claimed Title IX was merely a remedy to “sexual ambivalences or awkward sexual experiences.” This followed her statement to the New York Times in July 2017 that “accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.”

In September 2017, the Trump Administration rescinded protections for student survivors of sexual violence, such as the requirement that schools conduct prompt investigations following reports of sexual misconduct. The Title IX policy the Administration issued in its place was motivated by outdated, sexist stereotypes and created discriminatory barriers that disadvantage survivors and discourage them from reporting their experiences. In response, SurvJustice, Equal Rights Advocates, and Victim Rights Law Center filed suit, alleging the Trump Administration’s extreme Title IX policy is unlawfully based on government officials’ discriminatory stereotypes about the credibility of women and girls who report sexual violence. Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on October 31 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The government filed a motion to dismiss on December 14, and the groups responded January 11, 2018.

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Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.