Turning Challenges into Opportunities: Addressing Sexual Assault on Campuses

The new focus on sexual assault is an opportunity to make real change on campus.

557b8ee85d17a-imageGuest Contributor:  Ellen Eardley, University of Missouri
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Civil Rights and Title IX; Title IX Administrator; Cincinnati Law (’03)

Now more than ever, colleges and universities face new challenges addressing campus sexual assault.

Recently, and not without controversy, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 has been used to address sexual violence – an extreme form of sex discrimination.  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has made clear that Title IX requires schools to have policies and procedures for responding to sexual violence. This requires careful attention to the rights and needs of students, faculty, and staff who experience and who are accused of sexual violence.

Some commentators have suggested that OCR has asked higher education to undertake a burdensome, and potentially impossible, balancing act. But rather than a burden, these guidelines present an opportunity to make meaningful shifts in addressing and preventing sexual violence.  Continue reading “Turning Challenges into Opportunities: Addressing Sexual Assault on Campuses”

Title IX, Transgender Students, and Bathroom Battles

School districts challenge the Obama Administration’s reading of Title IX.

When Gavin Grimm starts his senior year on August 30, he’ll have to use the girls’ bathroom.  Or a repurposed broom closet.

Gavin is a transgender boy.  Last year, when he and his mom told school officials about his transition, the school agreed to treat him like the boy Gavin always knew he was.  But the School Board objected, ultimately passing a regulation forbidding him from using the boys’ bathroom.  Gavin sued and successfully got an injunction from the Fourth Circuit that prevent the Board from enforcing its new policy.  But the U.S. Supreme Court, in turn, granted the Board’s request to keep the status quo in place until the Court decides whether to hear the Board’s appeal.  So, while the Board works on its petition for review, Gavin’s got to use the girls’ room.  Or that bathroom formerly known as a broom closet.

Gavin’s case is just one of several lawsuits in which transgender students’ rights are at stake. A district court recently put on hold the Obama Administration’s anti-discrimination policies for these students, which means Gavin’s predicament won’t be unique. Continue reading “Title IX, Transgender Students, and Bathroom Battles”

Spelman College: Leading at the Intersections of Race, Gender, and Sexuality

Spelman considers admitting transgender students.

Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell welcomed students and staff alike to the new academic year with a news-breaking short letter.  Tucked among paragraphs about strategic planning and enrollment figures, was an announcement about a new task force—one that would recommend whether the storied historically black college for women should admit transgender students.

If Spelman changes its admissions policy, it would join the so-called “Seven Sisters” colleges in opening its doors to trans women.

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But even more importantly, breaking down this barrier would strike at the heart of racial and gender hierarchies limiting African Americans.

 

 

Continue reading “Spelman College: Leading at the Intersections of Race, Gender, and Sexuality”

Linking Theory to Practice–Social Justice Practice, that is…

Social justice requires voting. Make sure you are registered.

“If you want peace, work for justice.”

Pope Paul VI’s words take on extra meaning as Election Day gets closer.  Consider President Obama’s recent spin on that adage:

“If you want more justice in the justice system, then we’ve all got to vote – not just for a President, but for mayors, and sheriffs, and state’s attorneys, and state legislators.” 

Voting is essential to our work for social justice.  And, as President Obama suggested, all politics are local.  That means showing up at the polls in every election, not just for President, but also in off years to elect officials to serve on city councils, school boards, state legislatures, and more because there’s a political connection to virtually every social justice issue. Continue reading “Linking Theory to Practice–Social Justice Practice, that is…”

Black Girls and Zero Tolerance: A Call to Action

Barbara Perez headshot

Guest Contributor: Barbara Perez, President and CEO of the YWCA Greater Cincinnati

In Cincinnati, African-American girls are five times more likely to be suspended from school than white boys and nearly nine times more likely to be suspended than other girls. Nationally, black girls are suspended from school more than any other group of girls and at a much higher rate than white, Asian and Latino boys.

This is one of the consequences of “zero-tolerance” policies which use suspension, expulsion and even arrests in response to a range of school-based incidents. While originally enacted to address cases of violent behavior and drug use, the Department of Education recently reported that 95 percent of out-of-school suspensions are now passed out for nonviolent, minor disruptions such as tardiness or disrespect.

Continue reading “Black Girls and Zero Tolerance: A Call to Action”

Welcome!

UC Social Justice is the blog for the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice of University of Cincinnati College of Law.  As part of the Center, our blog is about bridging divides–between theory and practice, our own university and greater Cincinnati, as well as building relationships across the nation and the globe.

This is the place were we will discuss and analyze the law and issues relating to social justice.  It’s also where we hope to connect to our growing community of partners and friends.

Welcome to UC Social Justice!

 

Back to School with #Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter as a vehicle for addressing racial disparities in school discipline

With a new school year approaching, I found myself thinking about #BlackLivesMatter (BLM).

Not just because of the violent summer of 2016, marked by more Black men dead at the hands of police and snipers targeting white police officers.

Or, because I worry about how my students process these terrible events, particularly against the backdrop of a political campaign season that has unleashed some of the most overtly hateful and vituperative racialized and sexist rhetoric I have ever seen.

BLM has elevated and placed into context the police shootings.   It has the potential to do even more.  As an “ideological and political intervention,” BLM is about more than just protesting:  its focus is on securing material change for African Americans.  That’s why, as we go back to school, I see BLM as a promising vehicle for challenging deep seated inequality contributing to Black dis-ease in society:  disparities public education.

Continue reading “Back to School with #Black Lives Matter”