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Two civil liberties groups have urged the U.S. Department of Education not to delay the release of proposed regulations under Title IX, the law prohibiting sex discrimination in institutions that receive federal funding, despite institutions’ occupation with the coronavirus pandemic.

The shift of colleges to primarily online operations means it is “an ideal time” for officials to change their policies to be in compliance with new Title IX regulations, the leaders of Speech First, a campus free speech organization, and the Independent Women’s Law Center, which advocates for reduced government control, wrote in a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Assistant Secretary Kenneth Marcus. The letter called attempts to delay the final regulations, which were proposed in November 2018, “a disingenuous attempt to put off indefinitely the implementation of rules that certain senators and special interest groups oppose on the merits.”

Several members of Congress and state attorneys general have called on DeVos to delay the final rule, suggesting that institutions are putting all efforts toward the basic needs of students during the coronavirus pandemic. But waiting on the rule would mean “biased investigatory procedures that stack the deck against the accused” will continue for students in the Title IX process at colleges, the letter said.

“All stakeholders in America’s institutions of higher education -- from students and parents to faculty and administrators -- deserve a just system, and they deserve it now,” Nicole Neily, president and founder of Speech First, said in a release. “At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has created much uncertainty in the education community, the department can provide clarity with respect to Title IX by issuing the regulations as soon as possible.”

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