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Women Win: Wrapping Up the Supreme Court 2014-2015 Term

Posted by Shelle Shimizu, Legal Intern | Posted on: July 14, 2015 at 09:58 am

The 2014-2015 Supreme Court Term witnessed a number of blockbuster cases affecting women’s rights, from health care, to marriage equality, to housing discrimination, to pregnancy discrimination and other workplace protections. Several of these cases led to historic victories, while others resulted in positive, but more limited, decisions.

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Let's Make It Get Better for LGBT Students

Posted by Allie Bohm, Legal Intern | Posted on: July 14, 2015 at 09:42 am

Middle school and high school can be brutal for anyone who does not fit the mold of whatever it means to be “cool.” But, it can be particularly rough for students who are questioning their sexuality or coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). And, today youth are coming out at younger and younger ages. In addition to realizing their lives don’t quite match the fairytales they grew up with or heteronormative media messages that surround them, these students often attend schools that openly discriminate against them based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and choose to ignore the harassment they face from their peers.

Federal civil rights statutes expressly prohibit discrimination in education based on race, color, national origin, sex, and disability. However, these laws do not explicitly cover sexual orientation or gender identity. Even though the Department of Education says that Title IX should protect students from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, because the law does not explicitly protect LGBT students, these students and their parents often have limited legal recourse when their schools ignore discrimination (including bullying and harassment) based on LGBT (or suspected LGBT) status.

The Senate has the opportunity to fix that. Late yesterday, Senator Franken (D-Minn.) began speaking on the Senate floor about the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), which he is introducing as an amendment to S. 1177, a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

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Federal Contractors Get $81 Billion for Breaking the Law. Now That's Going to Change

Posted by Abigail Bar-Lev, Fellow | Posted on: July 10, 2015 at 04:28 pm

If you were to break the law, you wouldn’t expect special treatment, right? If you were to violate someone else’s rights, you wouldn’t expect to get paid for it. And you certainly wouldn’t expect tax dollars to support your bad behavior.

Yet that is exactly what’s happening in the world of federal contracts. Some federal contractors are breaking the law, and they receive billions of dollars for more contracts straight from the public’s wallets.

How many billions? A Senate report found that 49 contractors who violated federal labor laws [PDF] nearly 1,800 separate times in a five-year period were then awarded $81 billion in federal contracts. $81 billion!

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Women's World Cup Parade Inspires Young Kids to Take on the World

Posted by | Posted on: July 10, 2015 at 03:55 pm

This morning, the US Women’s National Soccer Team celebrated their smashing victory in the Women’s World Cup with a Canyon of Heroes ticker-tape parade in New York City. This historic parade was the first ever ticker-tape parade in New York City honoring a women’s sports team. Amongst the confetti, flags, and crowds, hundreds of young fans—boys and girls alike—gathered to cheer the accomplishments of the women’s team. Ahead are some of our favorite moments of young fans celebrating the women’s World Cup win.

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EACH Woman Act Introduced to Strike Down Hyde

Posted by Carolyn Kossow, Intern | Posted on: July 10, 2015 at 09:15 am

The first time I ever really thought about abortion was in high school. In my 10th grade American history class, I learned about the Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark decision Roe v. Wade. My teacher explained how the ruling granted women the right to privacy and agency over their own bodies. Included in these rights was abortion. For a moment, I believed that the fight was won. I believed that since the Roe decision, all women have been free to make their own reproductive health care decisions.

However, that moment was brief. Soon I realized there was much more work to be done. I learned that just three years after Roe, Henry Hyde introduced the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment unjustly prohibits federal coverage of abortion care, unless in the case of rape, incest, or if the woman’s life is in danger. The amendment was created to stop women from getting abortions. Yes, you read that right. Henry Hyde himself clearly declared that this was the goal of the Hyde Amendment: “I would certainly like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion: a rich woman, a middle class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the…Medicaid bill.”

After nearly 40 years of the Hyde restrictions on abortion, as part of the All Above All coalition we are saying, “Enough is enough.” It is time to take action, and time to repeal Hyde.

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House Effort to Rewrite No Child Left Behind Gets an F

Posted by Adaku Onyeka-Crawford, Fellow | Posted on: July 09, 2015 at 03:01 pm

Yesterday, the House passed H.R. 5, a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Since its enactment 50 years ago, the goal of the ESEA has been to make sure all children—including disadvantaged children—have access to a quality education.  ESEA was last amended as No Child Left Behind in 2001. And although the law is long overdue for a rewrite, it has been crucial in uncovering gaps in achievement between certain groups of students. The National Women’s Law Center, with a coalition of more than 40 civil right organizations, has laid out principles that must be included in a reauthorized ESEA, including transparent and meaningful reporting of data.

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Voters Recognize Reproductive Health is Economic Health

Posted by Erika Hanson, Legal Intern | Posted on: July 09, 2015 at 09:22 am

As many women and families know, their economic stability largely depends on being able to make decisions about when and whether to take on the significant costs of raising a child. Access to reproductive health care allows a woman and her family to decide to delay having a child until they are best able. As studies have confirmed [PDF], delaying starting a family or having another child can also allow a woman to continue her education or career, increase her earning power, and attain better economic stability before having a child.

Voters Understand

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Data Silos Threaten the Purpose of ESEA

Posted by Allie Bohm, Legal Intern | Posted on: July 08, 2015 at 12:24 pm

When the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was signed into law 50 years ago, it acknowledged one of our nation’s most fundamental civil right principles—that all children deserve access to a high-quality education, regardless of their race, income, sex, or other circumstances. To its credit, when Congress reauthorized ESEA as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2002, it recommitted to that principle by requiring states to account for the performance of the most disadvantaged students.  

For the first time, districts and states had to report student performance and graduation rates by race/ethnicity, sex, disability status, English proficiency, economic status, and migrant status.  It was one of the most important and positive changes that NCLB brought about.  After all, how can ESEA live up to its promise without data on which groups of students are excelling and which are falling behind?  

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