Statement of NOW President Toni Van Pelt:
Sexual assault survivors are not safe on Betsy Devos’s watch.
Her announcement today that the Department of Education would begin rolling back protections for campus sexual assault survivors signals once again that this administration is committed only to protecting the privileged.
We’ve seen this in the administration’s treatment of communities of color, and the LGBTQIA+ community. And today, the Trump administration is choosing to protect people who act like Donald Trump. That’s tragic–both for women and LGBTQIA+ individuals who are targeted, and for men who are taught this is what masculinity looks like.
Because of this ugly choice, students are now at risk of losing tools that provided a path to justice–like easy access to Title IX coordinators, and an Office of Civil Rights that listened. But they’re losing far more than that. They’re losing a culture that was finally beginning to support survivors, and take them seriously when they gave voice to their trauma. Without this culture, they won’t speak up. Survivors–particularly women, and particularly members of other already marginalized communities–will go back to enduring the violence in silence.
Where there is silence, there is shame. Survivors have endured far too much of that already. They need to know their schools–and their government–have their backs. The National Organization for Women will continue working fiercely to make that a reality–and to end the cycle of silence and violence once and for all.
M.E. Ficarra, email@example.com, 951-547-1241