On Tuesday, President of the College Adam Falk sent a campus-wide email alarming the College’s adherence to Title IX, prevention of sexual assault and the rights of transgender students, faculty and staff at the College. He emphasized the work already done to address sexual assault and the prevention and response systems already in place, referencing an article in the spring 2015 issue of Williams Magazine, “Standing Strong Together.”
The email is a response to President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of Department of Education legal guidance for school districts that instructed them to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity, not their biological sex. The repealed document relied upon the anti-sex discrimination protections of Title IX, the broader scope of which has been called into question by Trump’s repeal of the Obama administration’s legal guidance.
“To all those concerned about the future of Title IX and sexual assault prevention, I assure you that we’re going to continue and intensify [our current] e orts, not retreat from them,” Falk said in the email.
According to CNN, the interpretation and application by Obama of Title IX in the context of transgender bathroom access was controversial, a primary reason for Trump’s withdrawal of Obama’s instruction. Trump believes that this issue should be decided at the state level and that Title IX is not applicable law in this situation.
As an institution receiving federal funding, the College is required to comply with Title IX and in 2003 added gender identity and gender expression to its non-discrimination policy. Additionally, the College’s Title IX policy “prohibits and has established procedures to address sexual discrimination that does not include sexual misconduct,” including discrimination based on gender identity and expression.
“Title IX is, at its core, about safeguarding educational civil rights, and historically that inequity has fallen on female and LGBTQ students,” Meg Bossong ’05, director of sexual assault prevention and response, said. “Basic safety and facilities access is the absolute floor of that commitment, and something that should not be relegated to a state- and institutional-level patchwork for people to pick their way through in isolation.”