(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), sexual assault survivors, and other advocates met with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The meeting was part of a symposium on campus sexual assault that included survivors and Title IX experts, groups representing students who have been accused of sexual assault, and college attorneys.
The following is a statement by NWLC President and CEO Fatima Goss Graves, who spoke at the meeting:
“We have long sought a meeting with Secretary DeVos to urge her to take seriously the concerns of sexual assault survivors and commit to preserving Title IX guidance critical to ensuring that sexual violence does not deprive students of educational opportunities. But the symposium’s limited participation from student survivors is hardly adequate to get a comprehensive understanding of how Title IX protections and enforcement have allowed so many survivors to continue their education and of what happens when schools fail to live up to their civil rights obligations.
“We also are deeply worried that outdated ideas and myths about rape will ultimately drive policy coming out of the Department. And the meetings with extremist groups and recent Department statements do not give us much comfort. It is crucial that the Secretary lead the way in rejecting obsolete and outrageous myths about sexual assault—including that rape is just a drunken encounter gone wrong—and harmful stereotypes about survivors.
“Every student deserves to learn in a safe environment free from sex discrimination and violence. The Secretary needs to meet with students at K-12 schools and colleges across the country to truly understand how institutions are responding to sexual assault. It’s critical that the Department send a message to students that it will stand up for their rights and not roll back Title IX protections.”
The National Women’s Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women’s equality and opportunity. The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women. For more information on the Center, visit: www.nwlc.org.