The work of branch members has touched twenty-six school districts in Cumberland, Adams, Perry, and Franklin counties. Here’s how.
In August 2015, we launched a project to deliver the new resources for Title IX Coordinators to the seven school districts represented by our branch members. Title IX is about more than sports. It ensures educational gender equality in academics, protections from sexual harassment and assault, rights for pregnant and parenting students and more. Many administrators charged with the responsibility of Title IX Coordinator received no or little training, therefore the implementation of this 40+ year old law is inconsistent. Reason enough to deliver the new resources from the U.S. Department of Education.
The goal took on additional importance when we learned the reporting of sexual harassment and gender based bullying is not accurate in Pennsylvania. In the July, the U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Data Collection report showed 66% of Pennsylvania schools reported zero incidents. Research and anecdotal evidence tells us that is not probable. So, the Public Policy committee decided to inform all Cumberland County school districts of the importance of accurate reporting and deliver resources to those not included in original project. This went so smoothly, we brought the message of accurate reporting and delivered the resources to Adams, Franklin, and Perry counties too.
Thank you to every branch member contributing to the successful completion of this project.
Title IX Background
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was the first comprehensive federal law to prohibit sex discrimination in education. It includes local school districts (K-12), colleges and universities, for-profit schools, career and technical education agencies, libraries, and museums.
Many associate Title IX with athletics, but it is more. Title IX affects all areas of education, including admissions; career and technical education; pregnant, parenting, and/or married students; STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education; sexual harassment and assault; comparable facilities and access to course offerings; financial assistance; student health services and insurance benefits; harassment based on gender identity; and athletics.
All schools must publicly appoint at least one employee to coordinate Title IX compliance. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Education published resources for Title IX Coordinators and asked AAUW members to deliver them locally. Carlisle Branch members delivered the new resources to Big Spring, Camp Hill, Carlisle, Cumberland Valley, and Northern York County school districts.
This past summer, AAUW welcomed the release U.S. Department of Education released the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) for 2013–14. AAUW analyzed the sexual harassment and gender-based bullying data and found two-thirds of public schools reported zero incidents of sexual harassment. AAUW’s own research and anecdotal information lead us to believe the incidents of sexual harassment and gender-based bullying are not being accurately reported. Pennsylvania’s results were 66% of schools reported zero incidents.
In July, Dot McLane, AAUW-PA President and Lisa Maatz, Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy jointly sent a letter to Governor Wolf outlining the concern and stating AAUW’s interest, concluding “Accurate data collection efforts are an essential tool to determine the adequacy of current enforcement levels and any areas in need of improvement in Pennsylvania schools. The information provided in the CRDC is vital in ensuring Title IX compliance in local communities. AAUW believes that schools owe it to their students to get these numbers right, and to respond appropriately to such reports.” As of October, the Governor has not responded to the letter. AAUW-PA branches are taking action. Carlisle Branch is:
- Writing emails to Big Spring, Camp Hill, Carlisle, Cumberland Valley, and Northern York County informing the Title IX Coordinator of them of the data and need for accurate reporting.
- Sending an email to the remaining school districts in Cumberland County to inform and deliver the Title IX resources.
- Attending school board meeting to speak in the public comment portion of the agenda.