When schools ignore Title IX, children suffer

Title IX issues that start in colleges and universities inevitably make their way to K-12 schools, opening society’s eyes to the pervasiveness of the problem at all ages. A year-long investigation by Associated Press reporters provides the latest example — a “hidden horror” of 17,000 sexual assaults by students against other students in grades K-12 over a four-year period. Too often in these cases, students and their parents must rely on Title IX to amplify their cries for help. Student sexual assaults have been the top headline-grabbing Title IX complaint in higher education over the past 6 years or so. The […]

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Framing Title IX controversies: New or old?

The media and anti-Title IX pundits are fond of framing controversies around campus sexual assaults as a relatively “new” phenomenon that started in 2011. Too often that leaves out the 45-year history of schools and colleges unfairly ignoring, obstinately defying, and only reluctantly complying with Title IX’s mandate to fight sex discrimination in education. A case in point: The Chronicle of Higher Education, which probably has the best and most extensive Title IX coverage of any media outlet over the years, published a lengthy and very interesting article (available to subscribers), “One Letter Changed Colleges’ Response to Rape Cases.” The article described events since the Office for Civil […]

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Uppity women changing UC Santa Barbara

A nearly 13-hour sit-in by female students and their supporters at the University of California, Santa Barbara produced promises of change from the administration, providing an example of how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to go under Title IX. The sit-in happened just as I was watching the 1999 documentary A Hero for Daisy about a dramatic 1976 protest by female students at Yale University who stripped off their clothes in an administrator’s office to reveal “Title IX” or “IX” written in bold letters on their chests and backs. Their leader, Chris Ernst, then read a statement of grievances […]

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Students as sexual predators: the norm?

What do Title IX, the comedian Betsy Salkind, and the new film The Hunting Ground have in common? A historical thread that’s about to change one sorry aspect of U.S. society. Finally. I hope. The Hunting Ground opens in cities across the United States this week and offers the possibility of a fundamental cultural shift toward respecting that non-consensual sex is an assault even if it’s done by a peer, like a student with a student, and that schools must not hide, tolerate, or condone it. At least, I think that’s what the film may point toward. I plan to see […]

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Name it to change it

(Video: Title IX expert Bernice Sandler on why words matter.) We swim in a sea of cultural assumptions. Norms surround us like the air we breathe, scarcely noticeable until we find them toxic, and then hard to explain to someone who isn’t feeling their poisonous effects. Parting the sea, cleaning the air of sexist assumptions takes time and effort, and even the cleaners may feel residual toxic effects. Women from the early history of Title IX have described to me insecurities from internalizing the sexism around them in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Bernice Sandler initially believed a colleague when he told […]

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