Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trump could reverse Obama’s actions on college sex assault, transgender rights - The Washington Post

Trump could reverse Obama’s actions on college sex assault, transgender rights - The Washington Post:

Trump could reverse Obama’s actions on college sex assault, transgender rights


President Obama has wielded civil rights enforcement powers aggressively in the education arena for the past eight years, pushing colleges to toughen policies on sexual assault and schools to eliminate racial bias in student discipline. His administration also declared that transgender students must be allowed to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity — a question now before the Supreme Court.
President-elect Donald Trump could reverse much of that, if he chooses, after he takes office in January.
With the stroke of a pen, Trump or his senior officials could revise or rescind Obama administration statements on transgender rights and sexual assault. The Trump administration and a Republican Congress also could starve civil rights enforcement funding, slowing hundreds of open investigations and narrowing their scope.
Republican lawmakers have repeatedly criticized the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, accusing it of overstepping its legal authority. They say they want OCR to give more deference to colleges and local schools. With political control in Washington, they might be able to rein it in.
“Whoever is selected to lead OCR must restore its daily operations to their original construct and stop the unchecked regulatory overreach,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.). The office “should be a valuable asset to our nation rather than a dreaded regulatory bully.”
Trump said relatively little about education during the campaign and even less about the intersection of civil rights and schools. At one point he asserted that the Education Department“is massive and it can be largely eliminated.” Whether that was just campaign hyperbole remains to be seen. The GOP platform was more specific, attacking “bureaucrats” in the Obama administration for interpreting a federal law barring sex discrimination, Title IX, to include protections related to “sexual orientation or other categories.”
“Their agenda has nothing to do with individual rights; it has everything to do with power,” the platform stated. “They are determined to reshape our schools — and our entire society — to fit the mold of an ideology alien to America’s history and traditions.”
The Trump transition team did not respond to requests for comment.
Education Secretary John B. King Jr. has strongly defended OCR. In February, he told Congress that the office “has been actively protecting the rights of all students through comprehensive strategies,” including efforts to stop bullying, harassment and sexual assault. On Thursday, King told reporters it was “crucial” for any future secretary to “have a strong commitment to the historical goal of the department in protecting students’ civil rights.”
One of the department’s largest units, the Office for Civil Rights had about 540 employees in 2015 at its headquarters and 12 regional offices. Its mission is to enforce laws barring discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, disability and age. The staffing level has shrunk 24 percent since 2000, even as complaints have risen. In fiscal 2015, OCR fielded more than 10,000 complaints and opened more than 3,000 investigations.
College sexual assault
Some of OCR’s highest-profile investigations have scrutinized how colleges and universities respond to sexual violence.
The Obama administration in 2011 advised colleges in a guidance letter that sexual violence is a Trump could reverse Obama’s actions on college sex assault, transgender rights - The Washington Post:

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