Students experience sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence at alarming rates. Nearly one in five undergraduate women experience sexual assault or attempted sexual assault while in college. Nearly half the 7th to 12th grade students surveyed in a national study said they experienced sexual harassment at school. And lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students are twice as likely as other students to be harassed or assaulted at school. In addition to the traumatic effect on their lives, gender-based violence can deprive students of their right to equal educational opportunities.
Sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other forms of gender-based violence against students are a form of sex discrimination prohibited under federal law. But many schools fail to take appropriate steps to prevent and respond to gender-based violence. This leaves students without the support they need and the education to which they’re entitled.
Public Justice represents students when their schools fail to respond adequately to the gender-based violence they’ve experienced. We believe litigation is a critical part of the solution to this problem. And one of the most powerful tools for battling gender violence is litigation under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funds. Title IX lawsuits can result in justice for the survivor and systemic change in the culture of schools, so they do a better job of preventing and addressing gender violence.
Public Justice addresses gender violence in schools across the board—from primary and secondary schools to colleges and universities. We also address a wide range of gender violence in schools, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, harassment of LGBT students, and hazing. In addition to litigating cases in the courts, we represent survivors of gender violence in administrative complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
Public Justice has also created resources on litigating gender violence cases against schools:
Read our letter written with the National Women’s Law Center and 110 other organizations (2018) demanding that the Trump administration and the Department of Health and Human Services not follow through on proposals to erase transgender, non-binary, and intersex people from civil rights protections by narrowing the legal definition of sex to exclude their experiences and existence.
Read our letter written with the National Women’s Law Center and five other organizations (2019) to the House Committee on Education & Labor urging the inclusion of legislation addressing campus sexual assault prevention and response in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
Our Anti-Bullying Campaign includes additional resources on harassment in schools—including gender-based harassment.