Heritage Experts: SAFER Act Threatens Protections for Women, Undermines Fair Judicial Process in Campus Sexual Assault Cases

Heritage Experts: SAFER Act Threatens Protections for Women, Undermines Fair Judicial Process in Campus Sexual Assault Cases

Dec 16, 2022 1 min read

WASHINGTON—With the Biden administration’s radical Department of Education Title IX guidance tied up in federal court and a new Title IX rule still in development, congressional Democrats have introduced a new bill that would codify the administration’s radical agenda. The so-called Students’ Access to Freedom and Educational Rights (SAFER) Act locks the administration’s harmful gender ideology rules into law, while also lowering the standard of proof for sexual assault cases and rewriting decades-old civil rights laws.

Jonathan Butcher, Will Skillman fellow in education at The Heritage Foundation, and Sarah Parshall Perry, a senior legal fellow at Heritage, released the following statement sounding the alarm on what this legislation would unleash on women and girls across the country, as well as individuals accused of sexual assault and harassment:

“The SAFER Act rejects biology, threatens important protections for women and girls, and removes critical due process protections for college students. This bill proposes a lower standard of proof for sexual assault cases, a standard which, when applied during the Obama administration, was shown to result in wrongful accusations.

“This proposal willfully misinterprets the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County and attempts to apply the ambiguous concept of ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ to laws meant to provide equal educational opportunities for girls and prevent discrimination against long-recognized classes of students in civil rights law.

“There is no scientific or legal basis that supports changing ‘sex’ to ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ in Title IX. Such a change threatens everyone's freedoms, removes important due process protections for students in higher education, and puts girls and women in danger of physical harm. It likewise ignores federal litigation in which trial court judges have determined that the Biden administration’s informal guidance expanding Title IX was unlawful.

“To make matters worse, this proposal strips due process protections from sexual assault and harassment proceedings, which will turn these campus investigations into little more than kangaroo court proceedings. By returning to a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ standard, for example, this bill threatens to ruin untold young lives.

“Perhaps in recognition that the Title IX rule will fail judicial review, this bill is nothing more than an attempt to force through President Biden’s aggressive agenda while Democrats make the most of a lame-duck session. Lawmakers should reject attempts like this bill that seek to force the left’s radical gender ideology into federal law.”