Betsy DeVos Rolled Back Protections for Student Survivors of Sexual Violence
Coalition of Legal and Advocacy Organizations are Suing the Trump Administration For Implementing Policy Based on Sexist Stereotypes

San Francisco, C.A. — Today, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California heard oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s discriminatory rollback of Title IX protections for students survivors of sexual violence. Appearing on behalf of plaintiffs SurvJustice, Equal Rights Advocates, and Victim Rights Law Center, three national public interest organizations — Democracy Forward, the National Center for Youth Law, and the National Women’s Law Center argued against the government’s motion to dismiss the case.

The groups sued in response to the Trump Administration’s new and extreme Title IX policy, which was based on the Administration’s false and biased belief that women and girls who report sexual violence are not credible. To bring further attention to the misguided assumptions underlying the policy, the groups, joined by 7 signatories have also urged the Administration to retract the misleading 2017 Dear Colleague Letter Secretary Betsy DeVos employed to support this unlawful policy change.

“Through this lawsuit, we have shown that we are unwilling to stand by while the Trump Administration attempts to flip Title IX on its head. We will vigorously support survivors and their federal right to pursue an education free of sex discrimination.” said Carly Mee, Executive Director of SurvJustice.

“The policies that we are challenging in this case not only ignore the purpose of Title IX, they contravene the Department of Education’s own mission of prohibiting discrimination and ensuring equal access to education,” said Jennifer Reisch, Legal Director of plaintiff Equal Rights Advocates. “We have a duty to remind this Administration of their responsibility to students who are denied their civil right to an equitable education at their schools and campuses.”

“The Department of Education’s rollback of protections for student survivors is extreme, biased, and inequitable,” says Stacy Malone, Executive Director of the Victim Rights Law Center. “We hope this historic lawsuit amplifies the voices of sexual assault survivors in the fight to protect critical education rights.”

“Whether it’s immigrant children or survivors of sexual violence, this administration will always blame the vulnerable and protect the powerful,” said Jesse Hahnel, Executive Director of the National Center for Youth Law.

“Instead of supporting survivors of campus sexual assault, the Trump Administration used sexist stereotypes to justify a discriminatory policy in violation of the Constitution, said Anne Harkavy, Executive Director of Democracy Forward. “We are proud to stand with our partner organizations to ensure that this harmful policy is reversed. The stereotypes infecting it have no place in public policy.”

“We are finally at a time when this country is beginning to reckon with sexual harassment and violence,” said Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center. “But the Trump-Pence Administration remains determined to put policies in place that make schools less safe and betray survivors.”

Last month, the Trump Administration moved to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims, in part, by making the absurd argument that its discriminatory policy actually benefits the organizations who sued over it because it gives them the opportunity to pursue their missions of opposing sex discrimination.

The original case, SurvJustice, at al,  v. DeVos, et al., was filed in January in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.


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.

SurvJustice is a survivor-led national not-for-profit organization that increases the prospect of justice for all survivors of sexual violence through effective legal assistance, policy advocacy, and institutional training.

Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) is a national civil rights organization dedicated to protecting and expanding economic and educational access and opportunities for women and girls.

Victim Rights Law Center is the first nonprofit law center in the country solely focused on the legal needs of sexual assault victims.

The National Women’s Law Center has worked for more than 40 years to protect and promote equality and opportunity for women and families. We champion policies and laws that help women and girls achieve their potential at every stage of their lives — at school, at work, at home, and in retirement. Our staff are committed advocates who take on the toughest challenges, especially for the most vulnerable women.

The National Center for Youth Law is a non-profit law firm that helps marginalized children achieve their potential by transforming the public agencies that serve them.

Press Contacts

Charisma Troiano
Democracy Forward
(202) 701-1781

Delia Coleman
Equal Rights Advocates
(312) 961-0033

Olympia Feil
National Women’s Law Center
(202) 588-5180