October 25, 2017

The Fight for Title IX

By Wendy Murphy, JD

Equal Means Equal is proud to be working with impact litigator, Wendy Murphy, an expert in Title IX law and an adjunct professor of sexual violence law at New England Law|Boston. Ms. Murphy, who has joined Equal Means Equal as our attorney, is also committed to seeing the ERA ratified in two more states within the next legislative year. But despite the forward momentum we are seeing, Wendy is extremely concerned that various establishment forces, under the guise of promoting women's rights, are actually pushing forward laws and policies that do the opposite. As far as Wendy is concerned, Title IX is fine the way it is; what it needs is support and enforcement, not a rewrite. Natalie and I agree as we are seeing this tactic being deployed with ERA as well.

Please feel free to reach out to Wendy if you need help and want to join us in filing suit in your state: wmurphy[at]nesl.edu

Attorney Wendy Murphy and Alison Shea, Editor-in-Chief, New England Law Review

Dr. Brigitte Alexander (SART Bronx Hospital), Kamala Lopez (Executive Director Equal Means Equal), Wendy Murphy, JD., Heidi Lockwood, philosophy professor and Title IX activist from Southern Connecticut State University, Natalie White (Equal Means Equal Artistic Director

LETTER FROM WENDY MURPHY, JD

Dear Friends and Colleagues;

As many of you know, we filed a lawsuit last week in federal court in Boston against President Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, because of new rules she issued in September that weaken Title IX, and subject sex-based civil rights harms on campus to second-class treatment, in violation of state and federal law.

The Plaintiffs in the case are: three women who were sexually assaulted in terrible campus-based incidents; and us, Equal Means Equal, an organization that advocates for full gender equality, and ratification of the ERA in 2018. Equal Means Equal is participating in the Boston lawsuit to support the victims, and to serve as a voice for women as a class.

In response to our lawsuit, many women’s rights organizations have been sending out notices about their plans to fight back against the Trump administration’s efforts to weaken women’s rights under Title IX.

We want to advise you to please be careful before supporting even well-established groups because, prior to our filing suit, they were not planning to take any action against Betsy DeVos. This is important to know because the agenda of some of these groups may be contrary to their stated mission.

Some groups are even using this issue to promote democratic candidates for office, even though democrats and republicans alike have attempted to weaken Title IX over the past several years.

 

A couple of Federal laws have even been proposed by seemingly pro-women's rights members of Congress amidst claims that these laws will be good for women and strengthen Title IX, but this is NOT TRUE. Their proposals will codify some of the troubling aspects of the new Betsy DeVos rules, and will subject women to different and worse treatment than other protected class students, which is currently illegal under Title IX. Different and worse treatment of victimized women would become legal if either of these bills became law.

State lawmakers, too, have been proposing new state laws to weaken the rights of women and girls under state civil rights laws, but they are being described to the public as laws that will benefit women and girls, and protect them from sexual assault. Again, this is NOT TRUE. State civil rights laws, like Title IX, currently guarantee full equality for women, and will only become weaker if changed or amended.

For decades, schools treated Title IX as a sports equity law, rather than a civil rights law. Now that women and girls are more aware of their rights, and are taking steps to enforce them on campus and in the courts, the backlash has begun, and some of the backlash is coming from groups claiming to be advocates for women’s rights.

If you care about safety and fully equal treatment for women and girls in education, please take the time to assess whether the groups you support are subversively working against women’s equality, especially in the critically important areas of education and the workplace. Near daily stories of women being abused at work are at once revolting and not surprising considering how acclimated women have become to the norm of being mistreated “based on sex.” On college campuses, sexual assault is so prevalent, conservative estimates are that over a million college women will be sexually assaulted over the next four years.

This is unacceptable and uncivilized. Please join us in this important fight not by sending us money but by refusing to settle for anything less than full and equal treatment for women on campus, in the workplace, and in the larger society.

Sincerely,

Wendy Murphy, JD