Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in partnership with men’s rights activist groups, has proposed to ease nationwide sexual assault rules to protect perpetrators in educational institutions.

The procedures, which were amended under the Obama Administration, to protect victims, are being thrown out by DeVos. Under President Barack Obama, Title IX, the 1972 law that prohibits sex discrimination in education, was strengthened. New guidelines and procedures were provided in a “Dear Colleague Letter” in 2011 addressed to colleges to protect victims from sexual misconduct.

The Obama Administration had made it clear that sexual assault is not just a crime – it can be a violation of a woman’s civil rights. The Administration described sexual misconduct as “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.”

DeVos, almost immediately after President Donald Trump appointed her to Secretary of Education, made it a priority to reverse the Title IX progress that Obama made. In partnership with men’s rights activists groups, DeVos sought to ease the guideline to protect perpetrators. Under Devos, the new definition of sexual misconduct would become “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the school’s education program or activity.” By this time, the victim would already be irreparably impacted – and the alleged perpetrators would likely not face any consequence whatsoever.


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The 2011 Obama Administration “Dear Colleague Letter” contained several loopholes that enabled colleges and other institutions to navigate around the guideline. The letter was also not a legally binding document. The schools only risked losing federal funding from non-compliance.

Brenda Adams, a senior attorney with Equal Rights Advocates, said Devos’ new regulations have nothing to do with unfair treatment of alleged students. Instead they are a result of men’s rights activists to protect alleged perpetrators. Adams stated, “It’s hard enough for a victim to come forward. There’s social stigma. Our society simply does not believe that women tell the truth. The rate of false reporting is no higher for sexual violence than it is for any other conduct or crime.”

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