In August 2020, the Trump Administration released changes to Title IX that detrimentally impacted student survivors. Prior to the Trump Administration, Title IX, a federal civil rights law, required schools to take quick and substantive action to respond to and limit the impact of sexual violence on students––or risk losing federal funding. That’s because sexual violence can limit a student’s access to education and, in turn, create inequality by pushing survivors out of school. For example, a survivor whose grades dramatically drop following their rape––as many’s do––might not have the same access to a top law school or medical school as their peers that didn’t experience violence.
But after the Trump administration took office, they moved to alter Title IX and present it narrowly as a federally mandated adjudication process––and one that heavily favors schools and abusers. By only requiring schools to do the bare minimum in response to gender violence, their changes to Title IX have pushed survivors out of school and allowed schools to get away with sweeping sexual violence under the rug.In fact, we found that nearly 40% of survivors who reported experienced substantial disruptions to their education that forced them to take a leave of absence, transfer schools, or drop out entirely. Beyond the impact on one’s education, sexual violence and harassment cause significant mental and physical health problems, challenges that are magnified when schools fail to adequately address sexual violence. Our study found that more than 40% of survivors reported suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and nearly a fifth of survivors disclosed struggles with disordered eating.
But the good news is that student organizers can, and have, organized against our schools to increase survivors support and create safer campuses. While it shouldn’t be our job, we know that survivors organizing has the power to change our school communities for the better. While your school may be somewhat limited by what is in the Trump rule––they aren’t entirely. In fact, there are many changes your school can make, even with the rule in place, to meet the needs of survivors. Schools can and should go above and beyond what Title IX legally requires in order to implement policies that actually protect students and mitigate the harms that can come with reporting. That’s why our report provides thorough recommendations to address the challenges highlighted.
In this toolkit, you’ll find everything you need to successfully run a petition campaign demanding better Title IX policies that do more to protect everyone’s civil right to an education free from violence. We’ll walk you through analyzing your current Title IX policy, identifying targets, crafting your demand letter, gaining signatures on your petition, delivering your petition, and following-up and escalating as needed. For any assistance in navigating this toolkit or if you need additional help, please reach out to us at email@example.com.