WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Department of Education is expected to release egregious new Title IX regulations that would make schools more dangerous for elementary, middle and high school students as well as college students. By narrowing the definition of sexual harassment, the rules would create a perverse incentive for K-12 school personnel to bury their heads in the sand in the face of possible sexual misconduct, rather than to proactively try to prevent it. The proposed changes would allow schools to abdicate their responsibility to protect students’ civil right to access their education.
One in four girls experiences sexual assault or abuse before she turns 18 and nearly 70 percent of them experience sexual harassment in high school. According to one survey, just 9 percent of girls who experience sexual harassment or violence report it to a teacher, guidance counselor or other adult at school. K-12 students who are victimized are particularly vulnerable and unlikely to report harassment or assault in the ways the Department of Education proscribes.
In order to raise awareness about the pervasive level of sexual harassment and violence young girls face, Girls Inc., a national nonprofit with 81 local affiliates across the country serving girls ages 5 to 18, recently launched an initiative called #GirlsToo. The #GirlsToo website offers guidance and resources for kids, parents and teachers who want to end sexual harassment and assault in K-12 schools.
Below you’ll find a statement from Lara Kaufmann, Director of Public Policy for Girls Inc., in response to the proposed Title IX rule changes:
“At a time when the public is just beginning to recognize the pervasive problem of sexual harassment and assault in our society, the Department of Education is making it harder for survivors to come forward and access justice.
All girls should be able to grow up safe, respected, and valued. Unfortunately, these new proposals will lead to fewer students reporting assaults and harassment, more dangerous K-12 schools, and more girls being denied their civil right to equal access to education.
Girls Inc. will not stand by while the Department of Education rolls back the already under-enforced civil rights protections of students. We strongly urge the U.S. Department of Education to reconsider the proposed change, which would put young girls and women alike at greater risk of harm.”
Girls Inc. inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold through direct service and advocacy. Our programming—delivered to 156,000 girls in partnership with schools and at our centers across 81 affiliates in 324 cities and 1,400 sites—focuses on the development of the whole girl. A combination of long-lasting mentoring relationships, a safe pro-girl environment, and research-based programming equips girls to lead healthy and productive lives, break the cycle of poverty, and become role models in their communities. Informed by girls and their families, we also advocate for legislation and policies to increase opportunities for all girls.