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Letter: Abolish Title IX of the Civil Rights Act

Smith writes, "Recently, three middle schoolers from the Kiel Area School District in Wisconsin are being accused of sexual harassment for refusing to use a self-described “non-binary” person’s preferred pronouns. It is one thing to prevent slurs; it is entirely different to compel speech."

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Title IX, passed in 1972, is an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that focuses on sex-based discrimination in schools that receive public funding. On its surface, there’s nothing wrong with this. Discrimination is bad and should not be allowed in public schools. In practice, however, that is not what this law is for.

A series of court decisions and eventually pressure from the Obama administration in the early 2010s clarified that sexual assault or harassment count as discrimination under this law. By allowing assault and harassment to go unchecked, the school is fostering discriminatory policies and they would lose federal funding. Therefore, schools are obligated to prevent harassment and assaults. Again, this may seem reasonable on the surface, but it’s not.

The problem is that when anybody is accused of wrongdoing by the government, they are constitutionally entitled to due process. This means that the accused must be presented with the evidence against them, be allowed to confront their accuser, and have an opportunity to provide evidence of their own for their defense. In practice, this does not happen. Schools actively prevent the accused from confronting their accuser, under the false guise of protecting victims. Tribunals are conducted behind closed doors without the accused even being allowed inside.

Schools have been sued countless times for violating people’s constitutional rights; despite schools continuously losing these suits, they keep doing this because they dare not risk losing federal funding.
Even when the alleged victim says nothing happened, schools will still expel the accused.

Title IX has become synonymous with the Inquisition.

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In 2015, Professor Laura Kipnis from Northwestern University wrote a letter in a newspaper criticizing the harassment policies so common in schools because they violate due process. In response, the university launched a Title IX investigation against her. She wasn’t even accused of assault or harassing anyone. Students complained that because she dared to criticize school policy, her presence on campus created a chilling effect that prevented students from reporting when they are harassed. Criticism of Title IX is itself a Title IX violation.

Recently, three middle schoolers from the Kiel Area School District in Wisconsin are being accused of sexual harassment for refusing to use a self-described “non-binary” person’s preferred pronouns. It is one thing to prevent slurs; it is entirely different to compel speech. This new standard, being pushed by the Biden administration, is untenable. This is not harassment, much less discrimination on the part of the school.

Modern Title IX law is so far corrupted from its original intent it is beyond saving. It violates people’s Fifth Amendment rights to due process, frequently kicking students (and staff) out of school with no chance to defend themselves, leaving them with tens of thousands of dollars in debt and no degree to show for it. It violates people’s First amendment right to free speech, both by prohibited speech people want to say, and compelling speech people do not want to say.

During the Trump administration, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos tried to institute much needed reforms, requiring due process. The ACLU (of all people) sued saying that due process is a bad thing. Now the Biden administration is undoing these reforms.

People’s constitutional rights cannot depend on the whims of administrators. There are no reforms that can withstand partisan bickering. Title IX is fundamentally flawed and should be abolished.

William Smith lives in Fargo.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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