Casten, Frankel, Lawrence Introduce Bill to Protect K-12 Students from Sexual Harassment and Assault

September 18, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C –  Today, U.S. Representative Sean Casten (IL-06) and Democratic Women's Caucus Chairs Lois Frankel (FL-21) and Brenda Lawrence (MI-14) introduced the Stop Sexual Harassment in K-12 Act. The bill aims to address sexual harassment and assault occurring in our nation's K-12 schools by creating clear standards and related funding streams for schools to uphold their students' Title IX rights.

"As our nation has reckoned with the pervasiveness of sexual assault and harassment on college campuses, our K-12 schools have largely been left behind," said Rep. Casten. "Countless K-12 students have experienced sexual violence, but our schools simply don't have the resources and guidance to solve this immense problem. It's my hope that the Stop Sexual Harassment in K-12 Act serves as the first, critical step to upholding K-12 students' Title IX rights." 

Rep. Frankel said, “Schools should be a place for every student to chase their dreams, free from sexual misconduct. This bill will ensure K-12 schools protect students from sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other forms of sex discrimination, as well as ensure equal access to education.”

Rep. Lawrence said, “It is of the utmost importance the we protect children from sexual harassment in schools and ensure that these learning spaces are safe havens that allow children the opportunity to focus on their education and their futures. Reports estimate that nearly 50% of all students will have experiences some sexual harassment between grades 7-12. Our goal with this legislation is to protect all K-12 students from all forms of sexual harassment and ensure they have access to and awareness of their rights.”

Specifically, the Stop Sexual Harassment in K-12 Act:  

  • Clearly defines the role and responsibilities of a Title IX coordinator in a K-12 school
  • Sets constraints on how many FTE Title IX coordinators a school district needs in the role given the size of their student body
  • Prevents people with conflicts of interest (e.g.: the principal) from serving in this position
  • Encourages schools to allow confidential reporting of sexual assault, so students are not deterred from seeking help
  • Provides training to students and teachers about what to do if they see or experience Title IX violations
  • Creates a national climate survey so we can get better data about where and how often harassment and assault are occurring
  • Ensures these trainings, surveys, and processes are age appropriate for each grade level
  • Provides funding to schools to help them meet these standards

While our nation is working to address this public health crisis to reopen the economy and send kids back to schools, we need to equip our schools to meet the needs of all students and protect them from sexual harassment and abuse when they go back.

The bill has been endorsed by the National Education Association, National Women's Law Center, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Girls Inc, End Rape on Campus, and the American Association of University Women.

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