(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement on Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona’s announcement that the Department of Education will review the existing Title IX rule, which governs how schools handle allegations of sexual harassment and assault and sex discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
In May 2020, former Secretary DeVos issued a Title IX rule that weakened protections for survivors of sexual harassment and assault by making it harder for students to report incidents of sexual harassment or assault, narrowed the definition of sexual assault and harassment, and made it significantly easier for schools to escape liability for not responding to incidents.
“I’m so glad to see Secretary Cardona and the Biden Administration are actually listening to students, survivors, and advocates—instead of ignoring them. The previous Administration’s Title IX rule made it that much harder for a student to report an incident of sexual assault or harassment—and that much easier for a school to sweep it under the rug.
“This review of the DeVos Title IX rule is a critical step towards undoing the harm caused by the Trump Administration. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to better protect all of our students, and I’m looking forward to working with the Biden Administration to ensure that every student can learn in a safe environment, free from discrimination, harassment and assault.”
Senator Patty Murray has long been fought to ensure students are safe at school, including by strengthening protections for sexual harassment and assault survivors under Title IX. Starting in 2017, when Secretary DeVos first indicated that she intended to change the Title IX guidance, Senator Murray led Democrats in pressing for the Department of Education to fulfill its obligation to keep students safe and urged Secretary DeVos to listen to survivors. When Secretary DeVos officially proposed her rule in November 2018, Senator Murray immediately called for her to rescind the proposal. In January 2019, Senator Murray urged the Department to extend the comment period so students could make their voices heard. In January 2019, Senator Murray led 35 Democratic senators in sending an official letter opposing the rule.
In May 2020, when Secretary DeVos issued the final rule, Senator Murray slammed the Trump Administration saying, “this rule is not about ‘restoring balance,’ this is about silencing survivors.” She also noted that “instead of responsibly working with advocates, survivors, students, K-12 schools, and colleges to address the issue, Secretary DeVos and this Administration are going out of their way to make schools less safe.”