WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswomen Jahana Hayes (CT-05) and Debbie Dingell (MI-12) introduced legislation to hold education institutions accountable for any mishandling of sexual assault reports and failing to prevent further assaults.
Amidst continued sexual assault lawsuits regarding Michigan higher education institutions, the legislators are calling on schools to take responsibility for these cases and work to prevent future impact on students.
“Gender-based violence is a heinous reality for too many students, faculty and staff on college campuses, and K-12 schools. The statistics are alarming, and no one should endure this treatment, ” said Congresswoman Hayes. “The impact of gender-based violence has a ripple effect for survivors, including academic challenges, and a range of physical and mental health issues. One incident of gender-based violence is one too many, and those that enable and perpetuate violence must be held accountable. This bill would ensure that the onus is on education institutions to take responsibility for campus culture and sufficiently prevent and respond to violence against students, faculty and staff. We need to protect students and survivors. I am committed to working to keep school campuses safe from gender-based violence.”
The Title IX Take Responsibility Act would establish notice and reasonable care standards to hold educational institutions liable for sex discrimination, further defining criteria for how schools must exercise action to prevent and correct the impacts of sexual assault. The bill also would provide an individual private right of action for any institution’s failure to enforce these rights under the established standards and allows for equitable relief for the victim.
“For too long survivors of assault have suffered in silence, afraid to come forward for fear of retribution, attacks on their character, physical fear or, quite frankly, lack of action. Unfortunately, we see too much of it in Michigan, we see it across the country, and I’ve seen it in my own home,” said Rep. Dingell. “What has to be addressed is how schools have a responsibility to investigate potential patterns on their campuses and not pretend they’re not happening or sweep it under rug. Even if charges aren’t filed after an assault, that doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. As rumors spread across schools and their communities and people are discussing possible assaults, we need school administrations and faculty to keep their ear to the ground and strongly address potential threats to students to finally change the culture of treating this as a taboo subject. There is a serious responsibility on educational institutions to understand the culture of sexual assault at their schools and protect students, especially those who are afraid to report assaults or pursue help. This legislation is a first step in holding them accountable for any Title IX discrimination and mishandling sexual assault reports.”
“Courts have created barriers denying student survivors the justice they deserve for too long,” said Shiwali Patel, Director of Justice for Student Survivors & Senior Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center. “Students’ education and livelihoods have suffered because schools have been allowed by courts to do less than workplaces to protect survivors of sexual harassment. We’re proud to support this bill that will restore Title IX’s purpose to protect students’ civil rights and ensure no student is denied access to education because of sexual harassment.”
Congresswoman Jahana Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District. She was a public school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year.