More than 100 gender equity and civil rights advocacy organizations signed a letter to the incoming Biden administration’s transition team recommending that President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris stop enforcement of and move to rescind new regulations that reshaped how colleges respond to reports of sexual misconduct on campus. The new rules were put in place by the U.S. Department of Education in May and have since come under fire from higher education associations, advocates for survivors of sexual assault and women’s rights organizations.
The letter, signed by the National Women’s Law Center, the American Federation of Teachers, Know Your IX and 100 other groups, offered several steps the new administration should take to “reverse the damage caused by the Trump administration” and strengthen Title IX, the law that prohibits discrimination based on sex at federally funded institutions. The letter said that Biden’s Department of Education should start working on new regulations under Title IX and “promptly” issue interim guidance to return to Obama-era standards for how colleges respond to sexual misconduct.
“We are grateful for President-Elect Biden’s long track record of and continued commitment to supporting student survivors and for Vice President-Elect Harris’s work to end sexual harassment and advance gender equity,” the letter said. “Under the Biden-Harris administration, we look forward to the Department returning to its role of protecting rather than eroding students’ civil rights.”
The organizations also suggested that the Biden administration create a White House task force for sexual harassment in schools, fill gender equity positions in both the White House and Department of Education, and conduct a “listening tour” with students and survivors of sexual assault to evaluate how the Trump administration’s Title IX regulations have impacted them, the letter said. The letter also called on Biden and Harris to double the amount of federal funding requested by the department’s Office for Civil Rights, which handles Title IX complaints and investigations of colleges accused of mishandling sexual misconduct reports.
The Biden administration should additionally support key congressional legislation to combat sexual harassment in schools and improve the Department of Education’s collection of data on sex discrimination on campuses, the letter said. The newly staffed department should also address the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that protects LGBTQ people from employment discrimination and issue new Title IX regulations that offer similar protections for LGBTQ students on campus, the letter said.