Kuster Statement on Proposed Changes to Title IX
(Washington, DC) - Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) released the following statement on proposed changes to Title IX announced today by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The changes include narrowing the definition of sexual harassment, establishing a higher legal standard on which to hold schools accountable for ignoring wrongdoing, and constraining the purview schools have to investigate accusations against students. Title IX mandates equal opportunity to education without regard to gender, and empowers schools, colleges, and universities to improve resources for survivors and conduct internal investigations into reported incidents of sexual violence.
“The proposed changes to Title IX by Secretary DeVos and the Trump Administration will drastically undermine decades of progress designed to make our schools and campuses safer,” said Kuster. “Sexual harassment and assault are already one of the most underreported crimes in our society and creating barriers for survivors will only serve to further increase the challenge of seeking justice. I am especially troubled by provisions that permit schools to lower their evidentiary standards as they investigate misconduct claims and set an excessively high bar for defining harassment. Tragically, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 25 men will be sexually assaulted during college, and we should be strengthening rather than undermining these critical protections that help survivors seek the closure they deserve and move forward with their educational aspirations.”
Congresswoman Kuster has been a leader on addressing sexual assault and harassment, speaking in 2016 about her personal experiences. In 2017, she launched the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, which focuses on K-12 education, college campus safety, the rape kit backlog, military sexual trauma, improved data and collection, online harassment, and law enforcement training. The Task Force has held hearings on its areas of focus and released a legislative agenda in July of this year that includes legislation related to campus safety. Earlier this month, Rep. Kuster co-led a letter to Secretary DeVos urging the Education Department to fully engage with campus sexual assault survivors before releasing any new Title IX proposals.