Proposed Trump Rule Will Empower Abusers and Weaken Protections for Transgender Survivors and Transgender Students Seeking a Religious Education
In a proposed rule published today, the Department of Education is trying to strip rights away from student survivors of sexual assault and encourage schools to protect perpetrators.
If implemented, the rule would dramatically roll back schools’ obligations to investigate sexual assault and harassment and provide a fair process to survivors. The new regulation encourages schools to ignore reports of sexual assault and makes it harder for survivors to get the safe resolution they need.
Transgender people experience horrific rates of sexual assault, with nearly half (47%) experiencing sexual assault in their lifetime, according to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Transgender people of color experienced even higher rates of sexual assault. One in four transgender people who were out during college faced mistreatment, including sexual assault.
The rule would also give many schools sweeping latitude to claim a religious exemption to Title IX without notifying the Department of Education or students in advance, meaning that a school could expel a student for being outed as transgender and retroactively assert that they are exempt from Title IX’s requirements.
Currently, schools who wish to exploit Title IX’s already-sweeping religious exemption and adopt policies that single out LGBTQ students need to give advance notice to the Department of Education—meaning that at least students know that a school would kick them out because of who they are before deciding whether to enroll. This rule would go beyond current law and allow schools to use exemptions as a get-out-of-jail-free card after discriminating against an LGBTQ student.
Mara Keisling, executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, condemned the proposal:
“Transgender people know all too well the experience of having our stories put on trial, our experiences disbelieved, and our suffering ignored. If adopted, this rule will put even more barriers between transgender survivors and justice. It would mean that many of the most vulnerable members of our community can be subjected to an unfair and skewed process when reporting their assaults, pushing many away from reporting at all and retraumatizing them in their time of need. With this heartless and immoral rule, the president and Secretary DeVos want to send us back to a world where rape and sexual abuse are swept under the rug and ignored, forcing survivors into the dark."