Today, NWLC, with the Michigan law firm Smietanka, Buckleitner, Steffes and Gezon, filed a Title IX lawsuit in federal court against the Forest Hills School District outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan. We represent a high school student—we call her Jane Doe to protect her privacy—who was sexually assaulted on campus by a fellow student and star basketball player.
Jane was brave enough to tell a teacher what happened, and that teacher told the school principal. But when the principal met with Jane and her parents he discouraged her from filing a police report and implied that she’d jeopardize her assailant’s changes of getting recruited by Division 1 schools (!!!).
Jon Hamm’s … ahem… manhood has been all over all my RSS feeds as of late. Apparently, the wardrobe people on the set of Mad Men needed to ask Hamm to wear underwear so he isn’t exposed by tight-fitting suits, and he’s been caught at unflattering angles that accentuate certain body parts, shall we say, over others.
As a result, of course, the Internet has gone crazy – multiple Tumblrs have been created in honor of his privates, and article upon article has been written poking fun at the whole situation. Hamm is pretty upset. He told Rolling Stone:
“They're called privates for a reason. I'm wearing pants, for [expletive’s] sake. When people feel the freedom to create Tumblr accounts about my [penis], I feel like that wasn't part of the deal."
I had the great fortune of ringing in the New Year in India, thanks to my wonderful family who loves to travel. In addition to rediscovering how delicious and picturesque Indian food is, I also had a chance to be in the country during protests related to a violent gang rape, talk to people, and think about how important it is that respect for women be a part of every culture.
Channa masala and a samosa. Yum!
Immediately after stepping off the plane in Delhi, we were bombarded with news coverage, discussion, advertisements and even tourism signs addressing the story (honestly – the first sign my sister and I saw upon stepping out of baggage claim was one that said “Welcome to India! :) Many different kinds of bears live in India. :( Not strict enough rape laws.” What an interesting way to greet tourists…). Read more »
Monday morning I had the honor of observing the oral arguments for Vance v. Ball State at the United States Supreme Court. At issue in the case was how courts should define “supervisor” for the purposes of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination, including sexual harassment. This definition is important because it determines when an employer—in this case, Ball State University—will automatically be held liable for harassment perpetrated by an employee.
The plaintiff in the case is Ms. Vance, a catering assistant at Ball State University, who was the only African-American employee in her division. She alleged that she was threatened and called racially-motivated names by her immediate supervisors, and she suffered greatly because of it. However, Ms. Vance lost her case against the university when the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that for the purposes of Title VII, supervisors only include those people who can hire and fire employees. The individuals who harassed her did not have this authority, though they did oversee her day-to-day work. This decision reflects a continuing split among Circuit Courts, as other courts have held that supervisors should also include day-to-day supervisors. Read more »
Yesterday the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Allentown, Pennsylvania School District filed a proposed consent decree to resolve multiple complaints of peer-on-peer sexual assault at Central Elementary School. Specifically, a number of individual plaintiffs alleged that six- and seven-year-old students were sexually assaulted by another student in the boys’ bathroom at Central Elementary School during the 2003-04 school year.
The students alleged violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bans sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding. Sexual harassment, including sexual assault, is a type of sex discrimination.
DOJ intervened in a private lawsuit filed by student victims against the district, and conducted an investigation into the claims. DOJ found that sexual assaults had occurred on at least five separate occasions; the district was told of each incident immediately after it occurred, but failed to take appropriate action (and in some circumstances took no action) to prevent further assaults from occurring. Read more »
Under the Clery Act, Paterno had a legal obligation to inform the proper authorities after learning of the sexual assault an assistant coach had witnessed. Instead, Paterno sat on the report. He even delayed speaking with his supervisors so as not to “interfere with their weekends.”
Reuters reports that a new study by University of Texas Medical Branch found that 30 percent of US teenagers are sexting (defined in the study as “electronically sending sexually explicit images or messages”).
The study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, finds not only that nearly one-third of teens are sexting, but also that over half of teens have been asked to send a nude photo.
"Almost all of the girls that were asked to send a sext were bothered at least a little bit and over half were bothered a lot or a great deal, and yet some of them are still sending it," said Dr. Jeff Temple, lead author of the study.
In addition, sexting can becomecyberbullyingwhen students forward explicit photos to other students or even the entire school. And in fact, forwarding such images can actually be sexual harassment, and under Title IX schools are required to address harassment that is severe or pervasive enough to interfere with a student’s education or participation in school activities. Read more »
Because nothing gives me the warm and fuzzies quite like David Beckham speaking out against dating violence…
Last week the White House released a compelling new dating violence PSA entitled “1 is 2 Many,” which features President Obama, Vice President Biden, and a host of celebrity athletes encouraging men to step up in the fight to end gender-based violence.
Vice President Biden, who spearheaded the campaign, has long been a tireless advocate for women and girls. In 1990, then-Senator Biden introduced the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which forever changed the way our country responds to sexual assault and domestic violence. While it seems obvious to most of us that issues of gender-based violence should always transcend political gamesmanship, this year Congress has yet to reauthorize this crucial legislation.
As an intern at NWLC, I am struck by the fact that I didn’t know about Title IX before this experience, yet it could have affected my life. I hope that my story can help others become aware of this important law.
My 6th grade year was marred by bullying and harassment based on sex. Had my parents or I known about Title IX’s protection of students from sexual harassment, the outcome of this experience could have been drastically different.
Early that year, as I walked through a crowded hall, a boy squeezed my butt. He and his friends laughed at my horrified expression as they ran down the hall. I was 11 and felt confused and ashamed. My mom urged me to tell the principal, which I did. I didn’t know the boy, and though I tried to identify him with pictures, nothing ever happened.
At the school dance a few weeks later, his friends called me a “slut,” and “snitch” for telling on him. I cried in the bathroom and tried to pull my skirt down further on my legs. Read more »
What do you get a law that has everything? Well, last week, just in time for Title IX’s 40th birthday (this Saturday, June 23), the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Yale University decided to go the I-put-a-lot-of-time-into-this-present-because-I-really-care-about-you route: OCR and Yale entered into a resolution agreement to settle a complaint alleging that Yale failed to eliminate sex discrimination on campus in violation of Title IX. Happy birthday, Title IX!
The agreement resolves a March 2011 complaint by a group of 16 current and former Yale students alleging that a sexually hostile environment existed on campus. The complaint pointed to an October 2010 incident in which members of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity chanted “No means yes! Yes means anal!” and other charming bon mots in front of the Yale Women’s Center.
This episode, the complaint claimed, was an example of an ongoing pattern of sexual harassment, to which the university failed to promptly or fairly respond. (No students involved received discipline.) In addition, the complaint alleged that Yale didn’t have a Title IX coordinator, as required by the law, and had an inadequate grievance process for addressing sex discrimination complaints. Read more »