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Pregnancy as a Disability? Khan v. Midwestern University
Jun 15th, 2017 by

The facts (combined from both decisions)

Ayesha Khan enrolled as a medical student at Midwestern University in fall 2010. 3.5 years into the program, in early 2013, Ms. Khan became pregnant. Like many women, Ms. Khan suffered from physical ailments during her pregnancy, including

  • Fatigue,
  • Nausea,
  • Gestational diabetes, and
  • Clinical depression and anxiety disorder (due to pregnancy and other personal circumstances).

Ms. Khan asked the University and her professors for accommodations—specifically, adjustments to her class schedule, rotations, and exams. She provided a letter from her doctor, who stated that Ms. Khan “was unable to fulfill the academic responsibilities due to her medical issues.” The University agreed too many of the requested accommodations and, in the middle of the semester, Ms. Khan took a two-week medical leave before returning to her coursework.

Yet, Ms. Khan alleges, not all of her accommodations were granted. In particular, she alleges that her Pharmacology professor responded to her request by criticizing her for being “too busy making babies” and implying that she could not pass his class because being pregnant was a full-time job that required her to stay home and play mommy. At the time of their conversation, Ms. Khan had failed seven out of nine exams and was, in fact, failing the course. Indeed, the professor denies that the two spoke about anything other than her academic performance and the target grades Ms. Khan needed to pass the course.

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Why The National Women’s Law Center Knew It Had To Sue Betsy DeVos
Jun 15th, 2017 by

In her four months in office, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has already racked up her share of critics, who have raised concerns about her qualifications, her support for school choice programs, and her ability to protect LGBTQ students. Now, she can officially count the National Women’s Law Center as another. On Monday, the NWLC announced it filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education to hold DeVos accountable for enforcing Title IX protections for sexual assault victims.

First introduced in conjunction with the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX was put into law to protect students from gender discrimination, sexual harassment and assault. In recent years, a number of reforms meant to help sexual assault victims on university campuses have been promoted by the Department of Education under Title IX.  However, NWLC has been disappointed by how the Department of Education has responded to their request for information on university responses to sexual assault since DeVos has been its leader.

Alexandra Brodsky, a fellow at NWLC who authored a blog post on the center’s decision to file a lawsuit, tells Bustle that the center originally filed a request to the Department of Education under the Freedom of Information Act back in January. (For those unfamiliar, the Freedom of Information Act allows American citizens to access government records for the sake of accountability and transparency.)

“In our request we asked both for the list of schools that were under investigation for sexual harassment or assault, and any resolution agreements or other documents marking the end of investigations, so we could see how the department was holding schools responsible,” Brodsky tells Bustle on the phone.

However, in the months following NWLC’s January request, there has been no response from DeVos, or anyone from the Department of Education, according to NWLC. It was this silence that pushed the NWLC to file a complaint against the DOE, which you can read here.

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TITLE IX.COM The Internet’s Primary Clearinghouse for All Things Title IX
May 26th, 2017 by

The Internet’s Primary Clearinghouse for All Things Title IX

TITLE IX.COM

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AP: Sex assaults in high school sports minimized as ‘hazing’
May 8th, 2017 by

The Georgia school district said it was investigating the baseball players for “misbehavior” and “inappropriate physical contact.” What it didn’t reveal was that a younger teammate had reported being sexually assaulted.

Even after players were later disciplined for sexual battery, the district cited student confidentiality to withhold details from the public and used “hazing” to describe the incident, which it also failed to report to the state as required.

Across the U.S., perhaps nowhere is student-on-student sexual assault as dismissed or as camouflaged as in boys’ sports, an Associated Press investigation found. Mischaracterized as hazing and bullying, the violence is so normalized on some teams that it persists for years, as players attacked one season become aggressors the next.

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Title IX at 45
May 3rd, 2017 by

The 45th anniversary of Title IX, the groundbreaking antidiscrimination law ensuring protection against sex discrimination in education, is this June. Experts weigh in on progress made in recent years, and what is needed to ensure it continues.

Rising above partisanship and gender politics, Title IX has historically garnered support from both Democrats and Republicans. This, according to Lisa Maatz, vice president of government relations and advocacy for the American Association of University Women (AAUW), is because the law guarantees equal rights to an education for girls and boys, and women and men. Title IX’s mandate extends far beyond its widely known role in expanding women’s access to athletics programs.

 “Title IX is hugely popular, and it’s a bipartisan issue. We don’t expect that to change,” Maatz said.

Echoing this sentiment, Sue Klein, Ed.D., education equity director for the Feminist Majority Foundation and a 34-year veteran of gender-equity research at the U.S. Department of Education, notes that many state and local laws also guarantee equal education rights to girls and boys and to women and men, and that federal agencies such as NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Justice support gender-rights education programs and activities along with the Education Department.

Dr. Klein and the Feminist Majority Foundation urge Title IX supporters to show their commitment to ending sex discrimination in their own communities by building on the Obama administration’s good work, including providing guidance, tools, and public enforcement decisions that have fortified Title IX. In view of all the unknowns posed by a new administration in Washington, advocates are also preparing to celebrate the groundbreaking antidiscrimination law’s 45th anniversary in June, making Dr. Klein’s recommendation all the more timely.

AT THE CORE OF COMPLIANCE: TITLE IX COORDINATORS

The people responsible for making sure Title IX works in schools, colleges, and universities across the country are called coordinators. At least one Title IX coordinator is required to work in every institution nationwide that receives federal funds for education programs or activities, and information about how to contact them should be posted on each school’s website.

Indeed, the Obama administration’s Department of Education encouraged greater attention to the important roles of required Title IX coordinators by providing the Title IX Resource Guide (http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/dcl-title-ix-coordinators-guide-201504.pdf) and the names, emails, and other ways to contact Title IX coordinators in 16,000 school districts and 7,000 colleges and universities, Dr. Klein said.

These school district Title IX coordinators are also encouraged to train and work with counterparts in all their public schools, to establish teams of coordinators with expertise in many areas of Title IX responsibility, such as ending sex discrimination and gender stereotyping in academics, athletics, employment, disciplinary practices, and sexual harassment and assault.

For example, Stop Sexual Assault in Schools (http://stopsexualassaultinschools.org/) has released its action plan on video, “Sexual Harassment: Not in Our School,” which showcases a student gender equity group learning from legal and education experts, student survivors, Title IX coordinators, and victim assistance providers about practical ways to ensure that their schools provide safe and equal learning opportunities.

That’s important because of intensified efforts by students, elected officials, and the Obama administration to deal with issues such as sexual violence, sexual harassment, LGBTQ discrimination, and equal access for women and girls to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs, and to college lab space, research assistants, and other support proportionate to their male colleagues.

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