Thirty members of California’s Congressional delegation are urging Gov. Jerry Brown to sign into law a bill that would require California schools, from K-12 to college-level, to more rigorously address sexual violence and harassment in schools.
Senate Bill 169 from state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, would codify into state law Obama-era regulations requiring schools that receive financial assistance, under Title IV anti-discrimination law, to develop stronger procedures for handling sexual harassment and violence complaints. Those include responding more promptly, defining sexual harassment through the education code and publishing grievance procedures.
The Trump administration, under Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, announced earlier this month that it plans to withdraw the federal guidance issued by former President Barack Obama in 2011 in response to sexual assault on college campuses.
Jackson said the federal guidance is a critical tool for schools to ensure campuses are safe.
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She said the Trump administration’s decision “puts women and girls at grave risk.”
“Women are raped and sexually assaulted far more often than perpetrators are falsely accused,” Jackson said in a statement. “Contrary to Secretary DeVos’ claims, the Obama administration guidelines created, for the first time, a fair, equitable and clear process for students and schools to effectively respond to rape and sexual assault while protecting both the accused as well as the victim. In California, we will continue to fight to ensure that women and girls can be safe in their educational pursuits.”
DeVos said the system has failed victims and those accused of sexual violence or harassment.
In the letter to Brown, Congressional Democrats, led by Rep. Jackie Speier of Hillsborough, said Jackson’s bill is a “necessary response to reduce an endemic culture of gender discrimination and violence in our schools.”
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