Legislators in Missouri are considering a dangerous proposal, HB 573, that if passed would tip the scales in favor of respondents in Title IX cases.
These bills rely on the stereotype that victims of sex discrimination, including sexual assault, are inherently less credible than victims of other types of student misconduct. They would stack the deck against complainants by:
- Requiring schools to discriminate against survivors and adopt a “clear and convincing” standard only for sexual harassment complaints.
- Only allowing schools to act only when the sexual harassment completely denies a student access to education. That means students would be forced to endure repeated and escalating levels of abuse without being able to ask their schools for help. By the time their school would be legally required to intervene, it might be too late—the student may have dropped their classes and might be completely derailed from graduating altogether.
- Permitting mediation in cases of sexual assault and dating violence–creating an unregulated process that jeopardizes the safety and due process of both parties.
- Removing schools’ ability to use discretion in screening evidence for relevance, giving respondents the opportunity to submit irrelevant information — such as mental health history — for the purpose of intimidating, harassing, or embarrassing a complainant or witness.
- Disadvantaging students of lower economic means by allowing students to have a lawyer, but not guaranteeing access to lawyers for students that can not afford one. This means one party might secure a prestigious attorney to represent them against another student who either cannot afford one or cannot disclose to their family in order to access the financial resources needed to secure one.
- Require the option of live, direct cross examination of complainants and all witnesses.
Take action now! Tell legislators in Missouri to stop the attack on survivors’ rights and ensure a fair process for ALL students.