NAICU Washington Update

Title IX Review Begins

June 11, 2021

The Department of Education kicked off its comprehensive review of Title IX this week with a five-day hearing that included oral testimony about sexual harassment on campus from hundreds of students, parents, educators, and other advocates. 

The Department is also accepting written comments submitted before 5:00 p.m. EDT today. NAICU has submitted its own written comments  describing the impact of the 2020 sexual harassment regulations on private, nonprofit colleges and universities.  

In addition to outlining concerns with the 2020 regulations, NAICU’s comments encouraged the Department to consider other factors during its review.  “Given the broad diversity of the private, nonprofit sector, NAICU urges the Department to avoid a one-size-fits-all model when revising the Title IX regulations,” wrote NAICU President Barbara Mistick.  “What works well on one campus may not work well on another. Private, nonprofit colleges and universities are hopeful that the Department will adopt a more balanced approach that sets forth broad principles for ensuring a safe and equitable educational environment for all students while providing flexibility for institutions to tailor policies in a way that best fits their campus, mission, and culture.”

NAICU was also actively engaged in drafting comments submitted by the American Council on Education (ACE) describing the shared concerns of the entire higher education community and has separately endorsed the ACE letter .  

The public hearing is the first step in the Department’s review of the agency’s Title IX regulations, guidance, and related policies. The hearing is likely to inform the Department’s plans to rewrite the sexual harassment regulations issued by the Trump Administration.

In other Title IX news, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicated that it will defend the statutory right of faith-based institutions to assert a religious exemption from claims of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination under Title IX. The declaration by DOJ came in a court filing in a case alleging that various Christian colleges have violated Title IX with respect to their treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students. 

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