The protections afforded to sexual assault victims are being rescinded, as directed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
Given initially under the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and expanded during the Obama Administration, Title IX had previously been under review by Devos’s department.
All educational institutions, public and private, that receive federal funding must abide by these laws.
In addition to these protections concerning sexual assault, Title IX covers discrimination on the basis of sex in athletics, extracurricular opportunities, tutoring, dining facilities and housing facilities.
The motivations behind DeVos’s intentions are unclear.
Her tenure as Secretary of Education has been riddled with ethics violations and accusations of bribery, that began with students physically blocking her first administrative school visit.
Her reasoning is derived from the belief that falsely-accused men and woman are greater victims than those of sexual assault.
While this decision is reckless and cruel, it reflects a broader ignorance that had previously only been suspected.
Betsy DeVos is a danger to the nation’s public schools and now, victims of sexual assault.
About one in three victims of sexual assault report their crimes, according to the Department of Justice’s statistics.
When non-reporting victims were asked why they chose not to report the assault, 20 percent said that they feared retaliation while a combined 26 percent of individuals either felt that the problem was a personal matter or that the police could not do anything to help.
It is clear that society has yet to advance to the level of respect and safety needed for a large portion of sexual assault victims to feel comfortable coming forward.
Regarding the interests of those who have been unfairly or incorrectly accused of sexual assault, a study at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) and a research publication at Stanford University both found the rate of false reporting to be between two percent and 10 percent.
This stands at odds with Secretary DeVos’s responsibility to oversee a department that enforces compliance with these education standards.
It is her responsibility to see that educational institutions are working to protect both men and women from sexual assault; not to provide false equivalences that bolster the arguments of those that seek to destroy these protections.
It is in the best interest of this country to protect victims of sexual assault. DeVos’s decision could lead to more prevalent sexual assault when the attackers do not feel that they will be forced to compensate for their crimes because the protections afforded to the victims have been undermined.
It continues remain seen just how far these repeals will go but the Department of Education is on track to potentially tear down a movement that seeks to empower victims of sexual assault.