October 23, 2017

Equal Means Equal v U.S. Department of Education & Betsy DeVos

By Kamala Lopez & Natalie White

Equal Means Equal filed the first lawsuit against the Trump Administration and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for their illegal order to the schools, encouraging them to violate the civil rights provisions guaranteed to women and girls under Title IX. We believe these orders are dangerous and unconstitutional and are prepared to take whatever steps necessary to move forward our urgent agenda of final ERA ratification and full legal equality for all American women and girls.

Attorney Wendy Murphy discusses Title IX and the Equal Means Equal lawsuit against the Department of Education & Betsy DeVos


On Thursday October 19th we fired the opening salvo in what we hope to be a quick, decisive campaign against the Title IX rollbacks ordered by the Trump Administration just weeks ago.

Natalie and I joined attorney Wendy Murphy in Boston, along with three unnamed rape victims, to launch the first lawsuit against Betsy DeVos in her capacity as Secretary of Education, for the recent illegal order to our colleges.

Dr. Brigitte Alexander (SART Bronx Hospital), Kamala Lopez, attorney Wendy Murphy, Alison M. Shea (New England Law Boston), Natalie White


By ordering educational institutions to violate Title IX, disregard the law and flout the constitution, DeVos and this administration are deliberately making matters even worse for women and girls on college campuses, where one in four will be sexually assaulted. Less than 5% of victims even report their assault with Title IX in placeImagine the chilling effect this new order now has on young women who have been raped and are considering reporting their assault. It’s just not right. It’s absolutely the wrong direction.

Obama’s “Dear Colleague letter of 2011” (that the DeVos order is responding to and attempting to rescind) never created new policy, despite misinformation to the contrary. That letter was simply a stern reminder to the schools to enforce Title IX’s civil rights protections for women and girls so we could start doing better. 

Apparently, despite 50 years of Title IX working to provide equality for women on campuses, this crucial law is not something Betsy DeVos and the Trump Administration are interested in enforcing or bolstering with honest intent.  In fact, they are doing the opposite; clearly doubling down on their civil rights attacks against women and girls as evidenced by multiple recent actions.

Permitting these illegal actions to proceed unhindered and unchallenged is dangerous.  Equal Means Equal will not stand idly by wringing our hands and “condemning” their disgraceful actions as young women lose their few hard-fought rights. As I said in the press conference:

"We intend to pursue these types of cases in every jurisdiction in this country as part of our declared commitment to secure full equality for all American women and girls."

With your support, we are committed to pushing forward until we achieve full legal equality for all American women and girls — whatever it takes.

In solidarity, moving forward with love and thanks,

Kamala, Natalie and the entire Equal Means Equal Team

Kamala Lopez                                                               Natalie White
Heroica Films  – President                                       Artist and Activist
EME – Executive Director                                         EME- Artistic Director