House Dems Propose Bill to Write Obama-era Title IX Guidance into Law

House Democrats unveiled legislation last week that would codify parts of the recently-rescinded Obama-era guidance on campus sexual assault, reported The Hill.

The proposed Title IX Protection Act—introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) alongside Reps. Lois Frankel (D-FL), Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH)—would require institutions to use the "preponderance of the evidence" standard in determining responsibility in an incident of sexual misconduct. Such a standard means that sexual violence or harassment was "more likely than not" to have happened. The measure would require investigations to adhere to a 60-calendar-day time frame and would discourage mediation and cross examination. It would also mandate that institutions offering the right to appeal or access to counsel must do so for both the complainant and the accused.

The legislation comes in response to the Trump administration's decision in September to scrap a 2011 letter on how colleges should handle campus sexual assault and a 2014 question-and-answer document about colleges' compliance with Title IX. The U.S. Education Department then issued interim guidance to allow schools to instead use the higher "clear-and-convincing-evidence" standard of proof, which forces schools to discern if it was "highly probable or reasonably certain" that a sexual assault occurred. The administration has said it plans to issue formal guidance after a notice-and-comment period.

The proposed bill says that while it is Congress's view that these requirements are already covered by Title IX sex discrimination laws, the recent action taken by the department's Office for Civil Rights contradicts longstanding guidance, discriminates against survivors, and has caused confusion among schools and students, the Hill reported.


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