Department of Education Cuts Back on Title IX Protections
On Wednesday, the Department of Education proposed regulations that would extensively weaken Title IX, the law that prohibits gender discrimination in federally funded education. The Department of Education proposal would make it significantly easier for schools and school districts to have single sex classes and single sex schools. Alarmingly, the regulations would permit schools to offer separate schools and classes by sex, but contains no requirement that the facilities offered to the two sexes be identical or equal.
Currently, Title IX permits single sex classes when they are needed to overcome the effects of gender discrimination. The proposed regulations would allow such classes in many more cases and no longer ties these classes to overcoming the effects of discrimination. The regulations would allow separate facilities or classes as long as the gender that is not given the special class or school receives a "substantially equal" educational opportunity. "Substantially equal" is not specifically defined in the regulation. However, the Department is very clear that equal or identical treatment is not required. For example, if boys are given a single sex class with two teachers, the "substantially equal" class for girls could have only one instructor.
"It is appalling," stated Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal, "that in the year that marks the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the case that taught us that separate is never equal, the Department of Education has issued proposed regulations that plan to separate the sexes and does not even promise us equality."
Many studies have found that there is no evidence that the single-sex nature of single-sex schools actually benefit male or female students. The qualities that make single-sex schools and classes attractive - fewer students, motivated parents, motivated teachers, and resources - are the same factors that make any school successful.
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. . . .