A January 2017 protest against Betsy DeVos in DC (Ted Eytan / Flickr)
Women’s rights organizations are calling on the Biden-Harris administration to establish a gender equality bureau in the Department of Education to carry out the long overdue promise of educational justice guaranteed by Title IX of the 1972 Educational Changes.
“There has never been any great federal leadership in the implementation of Title IX,” says Dr. Sue Klein, director of educational equity at the Feminist Majority Foundation, who is a leading politician. “This office would correct that.”
The need for proactive leadership on gender equality in education is more pressing than ever as the Trump administration has removed Title IX protections on gender equality in education for the past four years.
Former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos overturned Obama-era guidelines requiring schools to investigate and effectively address sexual harassment and assault by students, and then issued new regulations that made it much harder for survivors to file complaints and get protection. DeVos also withdrew key guides protecting the rights of transgender students and clarifying the roles and responsibilities of Title IX coordinators.
A Gender Equality Office in the Department of Education is set to reverse this damage, develop new gender equality initiatives in schools, and address pressing issues facing women and girls in education – including access to STEM education, athletics, discrimination during pregnancy, and sexual harassment and assault. It would also focus on eliminating exacerbated discrimination based on race, disability, immigration, English language learners, LGBTQ status and poverty.
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In a January 8 letter to the Biden-Harris Education Transition Team, over 115 organizations urged the Biden-Harris administration to act swiftly to establish a gender equality office and appoint a dedicated gender equality assistant director appoint directly to the Minister of Education of Biden, Miguel Cardona, report.
“The creation of a gender equality bureau is critical to restoring and ensuring opportunity, security and gender equality in education,” the letter reads. “The Gender Equality Office is needed immediately to receive public input on the revision of Title IX provisions on sexual harassment and assault, as well as other repealed guidelines for transgender people and Title IX coordinators.”
Organizations that signed the letter included the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF), the National Organization for Women, the YWCA, the American Association of University Women, the National Women’s Political Caucus, the National Council of Negro Women, Inc., and the National Partnership for Women and Families, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Women’s Rights Center, and many state and local organizations.
According to Klein, the office would have a “proactive gender equality infrastructure of Title IX coordinators and gender equality experts” with State Title IX coordinators, Title IX school district coordinators, and hopefully a Title IX Create a coordinator in each post-secondary and K-12 school who are networked with each other for the training, assessment and, if necessary, enforcement of Title IX and related civil rights laws and best practices.
“The vision would be a coordinated system in which Title IX coordinators empower and help each other at all levels and in which interested educators, parents, students and community members in the complete elimination of even unintended gender discrimination and sexual stereotypes in and through Education are involved, “said Klein.
As envisaged by proponents, the office would ensure the full implementation and enforcement of Title IX, with an emphasis on protecting the rights of women and girls in color, expectant and parental students, LGBTQ students, students with disabilities and English learners.
This centralized office, reporting directly to the Minister of Education, would be responsible for policy-making, training and federal coordination of the gender equality activities of the Ministry of Education and the parallel women’s offices in other federal agencies, including the Federal Health and Labor Department, the Department of Justice and the US State Department.
The office would also make high quality gender equality resources available to the public, including research, guidelines, training and materials for students through an online gender equality resource center that serves people at all levels from preschool to higher education.
The letter also calls on Biden and Harris to prevent the passage of the 2019 Gender Equality Act introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Representative Doris by Patsy T. Mink and Louise K. (p. 1964 / HR 3513 ) to support Matsui (D-Ca.). The bill would by law create a gender equality office and approve $ 80 million in funding, mainly for grants to school districts to assist Title IX coordinators and others in the implementation of Title IX.
Now that the Democrats are in control of Congress, it should be possible to pass a new, expanded version of the GEEA.
“What I hope,” said Klein, “is that there will be a group of people in every school and in every district working with the Title IX coordinator, who know what Title IX requires, and who are of a type Keeping an eye out.” the gender discrimination in their school, which could be proactively stopped before a Title IX complaint is even made. This is my hope. “
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