After leaving a homecoming dance, a high school girl was brutally raped. Other students photographed the rape but never reported it to police or school officials. Other girls in the school said they felt unsafe and avoided school activities. An employee at the school watched female students change clothes in the bathroom and inappropriately touched them. He was merely reprimanded and allowed to serve as the assistant girls’ basketball coach the next year. Middle school students in the district routinely faced physical and verbal harassment in front of teachers--including grabbing of breasts and genitals and calling male students “faggot” if they weren’t stereotypically masculine. The teachers often failed to report the harassment, let alone address it.
Yesterday a Kansas school suspended a 13-year old student for wearing a purse. Happened to be a Vera Bradley bag, but that shouldn’t matter, because it wasn’t the bright colors or quilted paisley design that prompted the disciplinary action. It was the fact that the student is a boy. There is no school rule about wearing purses, and female students who do so are not punished. But widely held, stubborn stereotypes are that females carry purses and men don’t. This boy, Skylar, defied that stereotype, and his school wouldn’t tolerate it. Read more »
In a 2009 study, nearly 20% of undergraduate women surveyed reported that they experienced sexual assault or attempted sexual assault while enrolled in college. Use this blog post as a basic tool to understanding your rights under Title IX, a federal law.
What is Title IX, and how does it apply to sexual assault?
Here at the National Women’s Law Center, we hear stories about problematic school policies all the time. But this story out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is particularly egregious: a charter school’s policy around hairstyles left seven-year-old Tiana Parker feeling alienated and her father with no choice but to transfer her to a new school.
Tiana Parker was sent home from Deborah Brown Community School due to her dreadlocks. According to the school’s policy, “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable” because they might “distract” students. It’s not clear to me why dreadlocks and afros are considered “faddish” – these are common natural hairstyles in the black community that have been worn for centuries. What is clear to me is that this school may need some education about the federal laws prohibiting programs that receive federal funding from discriminating based on race, color, or national origin – Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. And let’s not forget Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Read more »
When it comes to protecting the rights of pregnant and parenting students, the National Women’s Law Center’s work is never done. It was not too long ago that we settled a complaint against the CUNY system in New York City on behalf of Stephanie Stewart, whose professor did not excuse her pregnancy-related absences. Today, we are filing another complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, this time on behalf of Brandi Kostal, a student in a joint Masters of Science in Nutrition and Doctorate of Chiropractic program at Logan College of Chiropractic in St. Louis.
When Brandi had an emergency c-section in the middle of last term, one of her top concerns was finishing her courses so she could stay on track and graduate on time. But Logan College’s absence policy is incredibly strict: absences are only excused for jury duty or military service, and for many classes, missing just 2 sessions would push her into “attendance failure.” Brandi was doing well in her doctorate classes and did not want to withdraw or be penalized for her absences, which were the only options she was given. So she returned to her hectic class schedule just 11 days after her complicated surgery. She was in great pain, could not take her pain medications so she could drive, and had to stop breastfeeding her 11-day old infant. Read more »
As an alum of Swarthmore College who looks back on my years there with halcyon nostalgia, nothing could be more disheartening to me than to learn that my alma mater had been covering up reports of sexual assault, misreporting campus crime statistics, and turning a cold shoulder to survivors looking for support and justice. But after students filed Clery Act and Title IX complaints against the college last spring, I was forced to acknowledge that while Swarthmore gave me the educational foundation and friends to last a lifetime, other students—survivors of sexual assault—received so much less than the college promised and than they deserved.
Swarthmore took an important step last Thursday in restoring my confidence in the school and, more importantly, the safety of the students currently enrolled. In an open letter, President Rebecca Chopp detailed the initial actions Swarthmore will take to respond to the “sea change” in the law addressing sexual assault and harassment at America’s colleges and universities. From a number of new policies the college will roll out as soon as this summer, it’s clear that Swarthmore would rather surf the wave than drown. Read more »
Yesterday ESPN aired the first of nine films celebrating Title IX in its “Nine for IX” series. The first one, “Venus Vs.,” is about Venus Williams’ fight for equal pay for women at Wimbledon. While it is a triumphant story in many ways, I couldn’t help but be struck (and frustrated), as I always am, at the slow pace of progress.
The fight for equal pay at Wimbledon, much like the fight for equal pay for women in general, has been going on for decades. In tennis, Billie Jean King started the effort that Venus helped bring to fruition.
Similarly, on the playing fields of our nation’s schools, the battle for gender equity rages on. Over forty years after Title IX was passed, girls are still not receiving equal chances to play or equal benefits when they do. Read more »
Girls in the District of Columbia are being shortchanged when it comes to opportunities to play sports and benefits such as coaching, facilities and equipment, in violation of Title IX. That's what we said in a complaint filed yesterday with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
Information provided by DCPS pursuant to a FOIA request shows disparities of over 10 percentage points and as high as 26 percentage points between girls' enrollment and the share of athletic participation opportunities provided to them in the majority of the district's 15 public high schools. These gaps mean that DCPS would need to provide almost 700 additional athletic opportunities to girls to provide parity. The Center's complaint requests that OCR investigate all District public high schools and require them to treat girls fairly.
Check out the following snippets from the Washington Post, which published a story about the NWLC complaint:
Daja Dorsey, who graduated from Ballou in June and played basketball, volleyball, softball and ran track, said the boys' football and basketball teams got more intensive coaching, more attention from recruiters and scouts and more college scholarships than the girls' teams. "It was a whole different approach for the boys," she said. "I wouldn't have minded that."