Schools Receive Guidance in Addressing Sexual Violence

sexual violanceIn 2011, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released guidance for universities and public schools in addressing sexual violence and other forms of sex discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. On April 29, 2014, the OCR issued further guidance in the form of questions and answers on Title IX issues.

The OCR’s mission is to ensure equal access to education and promote educational excellence throughout the nation through the vigorous enforcement of civil rights. OCR is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination by educational institutions on the basis of disability, race, color, national origin, sex, and age.They also seek to promote the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act of 2001. This Act requires that when schools provide access to school facilities for a youth group that they also provide similar access to any other group affiliated with the Boy Scouts or other youth group listed in Title 36 of the United States Code as a patriotic society.

According to a report issued by Not Alone, the White House task force created to protect students from sexual assault, one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college. It is most often by somebody she knows and typically she does not report the assault. Although sexual assault happens to men less often, they are victims of these crimes as well.

The OCR’s guidelines are a response to a request from institutions and students to clarify the requirements of Title IX. The OCR’s goal is to put an end to campus cultures that tolerate sexual assault and rape. The guidance provided includes examples of proactive measures that schools can implement to prevent sexual violence, as well as remedies schools may use to end such conduct and address its consequences.

The OCR also provided frequently asked questions and answers, including dealing with a student’s request for confidentiality, how to determine whether sexual violence occurred and appropriate remedies for such violence. The guidance makes it clear that it applies to all students, whether straight, gay, lesbian, transgender, citizens or foreign students.

For more information about the OCR guidance discussed or the legal issues involved, we encourage you to contact a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Government Law Group.

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