SB-0169: Education: sex equity

Session: 2017-2018
Author: Jackson
Status: Vetoed
AAP-CA Position: Support
To view the status of this bill on the State Website, click here.

This bill would codify federal Title IX regulations into state law by requiring that schools receiving public funds adopt grievance procedures for prompt and equitable resolution of student sexual harassment complaints at the school and designate at least one employee of the school to act as a sex equity coordinator, and would also include sexual violence in the definition of sexual harassment.

Veto Message:

To the Members of the California State Senate:

I am returning Senate Bill 169 without my signature.

This is not a simple issue. Sexual harassment and sexual violence are serious and complicated matters for colleges to resolve. On the one side are complainants who come forward to seek justice and protection; on the other side stand accused students, who, guilty or not, must be treated fairly and with the presumption of innocence until the facts speak otherwise. Then, as we know, there are victims who never come forward, and perpetrators who walk free. Justice does not come easily in this environment.

That is why in 2014 I signed into law the first affirmative consent standard in the country for colleges to adopt in their sexual assault policies, so that clear and basic parameters for responsible behavior could be established. Yes Means Yes, along with its attendant preponderance standard, is the law in California, which only the courts or a future legislature can change.

Since this law was enacted, however, thoughtful legal minds have increasingly questioned whether federal and state actions to prevent and redress sexual harassment and assault – well-intentioned as they are – have also unintentionally resulted in some colleges’ failure to uphold due process for accused students. Depriving any student of higher education opportunities should not be done lightly, or out of fear of losing state or federal funding.

Given the strong state of our laws already, I am not prepared to codify additional requirements in reaction to a shifting federal landscape, when we haven’t yet ascertained the full impact of what we recently enacted. We have no insight into how many formal investigations result in expulsion, what circumstances lead to expulsion, or whether there is disproportionate impact on race or ethnicity. We may need more statutory requirements than what this bill contemplates. We may need fewer. Or still yet, we may need simply to fine tune what we have.

It is time to pause and survey the land.

I strongly believe that additional reflection and investment of time in understanding what is happening on the ground will help us exercise due care in this complex arena. I intend to convene a group of knowledgeable persons who can help us chart the way forward.

Sincerely,

Edmund G. Brown Jr.

AAP Positional Letter



April 12, 2017

The Honorable Hannah-Beth Jackson
State Capitol, Room 2032
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 651-4919

RE: SB 169 (Jackson): Education: sex equity
AAP-CA Position: SUPPORT

Dear Senator Jackson:

I am writing on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics, California (AAP-CA), representing over 5,000 California pediatricians, to let you know that we strongly support your proposed legislation SB 169 (Jackson). This bill would codify federal Title IX regulations into state law by requiring that schools receiving public funds adopt grievance procedures for prompt and equitable resolution of student sexual harassment complaints at the school and designate at least one employee of the school to act as a sex equity coordinator, and would also include sexual violence in the definition of sexual harassment.

No one should have to fear discrimination or assault of any sort, anywhere. It is especially important that our educational environments, where students lay the groundwork for the rest of their lives, remain safe for everyone. However, sex discrimination and sexual assault are still problems of epidemic proportions both in our society and in our educational institutions. A 2007 study suggests that nearly 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted during their time in college, as well as nearly 1 in 20 men, with gay and bisexual men experiencing sexual assault rates ten times higher than heterosexual men. Many studies indicate that transgender youth may experience even higher rates of sexual assault. Given this sad reality, it is essential that we take strong action.

SB 169 (Jackson) would help make sure our children and youth are kept safe at school by requiring that educational institutions adopt and publish procedures for the resolution of students’ sexual harassment complaints. This would represent one important step towards making our schools welcoming environments where all students can learn.

Pediatricians across the state support SB 169 (Jackson). We thank you for your leadership on behalf of the health and well-being of children, youth, and families in California.

Sincerely,


Susan Wu, M.D., Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics
State Government Affairs Committee, American Academy of Pediatrics, California

CC: Kris Calvin, CEO; AAP-CA Leadership; Lydia Bourne