Comment on Proposed Title IX Changes Submitted to the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights

On January 28, 2019, Legal Momentum submitted a public comment to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. The comment expresses LM's strong opposition to, and grave concern regarding, proposed rules relating to sexual harassment that would alter Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 in ways that would inhibit schools from effectively responding to sexual harassment—giving schools less flexibility and imposing more rigidity in what constitutes compliance—and would impose costs well beyond what is contemplated by the Department of Education. 

As Jennifer Becker, Legal Momentum's Deputy Legal Director, writes in the comment:

"Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 exists to ensure that no student’s education is denied or limited on the basis of their sex. Sexual harassment and/or sexual assault should never be the reason that an education is altered or interrupted. The individual and societal economic impact of any person not achieving their education is tangible. The lifetime financial cost of sexual assault to the individual victim is estimated between $87,000 to $240,7761, an estimate which includes lowered educational attainment and lost wages. The national economic burden of sexual violence has been estimated at $263 billion a year.2

The proposed rules permit, and in places require, institutions to refuse to respond to many instances of sexual harassment and violence. The outcome can only mean greater cost. Devastation will be endured by victims. Additionally, the proposed rules will cause significant costs to schools, well beyond what the NPRM acknowledges; to overhaul policies, to try to protect their communities while also complying with the proposed rules which do not promote safety, to meet their obligations under both the proposed rules and those established obligations with which these proposed rules conflict. The proposed rules are legally flawed, bad policy, and diminish the mandate of Title IX."

1. “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action,” The White House Council on Women and Girls, January 2014, citing Miller, T.R., Cohen, M.A., & Wiersema, B. (1996). Victim costs and consequences: A new look. National Institute of Justice. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/victcost.pdf; Delisi, M. (2010). Murder by numbers: Monetary costs imposed by a sample of homicide offenders. The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 21, 501-513.; Cohen, M. A., and Piquero, A.R. (2009) “New Evidence on the Monetary Value of Saving a High Risk Youth,” Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 25(1), 25–49. French, Michael T., Kathryn E. McCollister, and David Reznik (2010) The Cost of Crime to Society: New Crime-Specific Estimates for Policy and Program Evaluation. Drug Alcohol Dependence, 108(1-2), 98-109.
2.  Peterson, C., DeGue, S., Florence, C., Lokey, C., “Lifetime Economic Burden of Rape Among U.S. Adults,” June 2017, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.

To read the full comment, download the PDF at the link above. 

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