Supreme Court to Hear School Sexual Harassment Case
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a school sexual harassment case tomorrow that will determine whether schools can be held liable for student-to-student sexual harassment under Title IX, a law which prohibits schools from discriminating on the basis of sex. The Court previously held that schools are liable for sexual harassment committed by teachers.
Ten-year-old LaShonda Davis, who is now 16, charged that a male classmate repeatedly grabbed her breasts and crotch area, simulated raping her and threatened her with rape several different times. Davis complained to her teacher and her Macon County, Georgia school's principal several times, but no action was taken to punish the boy who abused her, and she was forced to continue sitting next to him in class.
Davis filed a criminal complaint against the boy and he plead guilty to sexual battery. Given his juvenile status, the boy's sentence was not been publicly disclosed.
The National Women's Law Center represents Davis in the suit, which was filed to punish the school for ignoring Davis' pleas for help. NWLC co-president Marcia Greenberg commented on the impact the case could have on girls. She believes that if her client does not prevail in the case, the decision would "give schools a green light to ignore sexual harassment, no matter how severe."
Counsel for the school counter that, because Title IX lacks specific language about sexual harassment, the school cannot be held liable for student-to-student sexual harassment, noting that the Department of Education's guidelines on sexual harassment were not made available to schools until 1996.
Similar arguments were made women first attempted to sue their employers under Title VII, which prohibits sex discrimination in the workplace. Despite objections that Title VII did not include specific references to sexual harassment among co-workers, the Supreme Court ruled that employers were responsible for employees who sexually harass their peers and that employees may sue employers under Title VII.
The plaintiff's mother, Aurelia Davis, has pledged to support her daughter in any way that she can. "I never wanted her to say that she went to everyone -- her teachers, her principal and her parents -- and they never did anything," said Ms. Davis.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .