The Gender Equality Law Center (GELC) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2014. GELC’s mission is to break down barriers created by gender discrimination and gender stereotyping that limit equal opportunities in education, employment, and in other spheres of public and private life.
Equal Pay Day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men's and women's wages. For 2019, Equal Pay Day will be commemorated on April 2. Likewise to International Women’s Day, Earth Day, and National Coming Out Day, Equal Pay Day takes on a proactive tone to call attention to essential areas in need of social change.
The particular date chosen for this year’s Equal Pay Day actually symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what their male counterparts earned in the previous year (Equal Pay Day, National Committee on Pay Equity). This means that almost one quarter of the way into 2019, women have earned what they would have already earned three months ago without the oppressive obstacles that prevent us from earning incomes equal to men.
GELC recognizes the Gender Pay Gap as a pressing issue and has focused much of its work dismantling some of its core causes- such as workplace gender discrimination and withholding of parental leave benefits by employers. Recently, we’ve joined our efforts with PowHer New York to address an additional contributor to the Gender Pay Gap: the lack of transparency surrounding employee wages. Common employer practices such as using prior salary history in setting current pay and prohibiting employees from discussing their wages allow pay inequality to persist, and passing legislation to outlaw these practices will directly empower women to engage in collective bargaining over their wages (The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, American Association of University Women).
A recent study by Columbia Business school examined the effects of a 2006 Danish law requiring companies to publicly report their employee’s salary information by gender, the 2006 Act on Gender Specific Pay Statistics. Using a sample group of companies, the study assessed the degree of wage disparity by gender before and after the passage of the Act to determine whether it achieved its purpose of promoting wage equality. Sure enough, the researchers found that the Gender Pay gap had decreased by 7% following the enactment of the new policy (Wage Transparency Works: Reduces Gender Pay Gap by 7%, Columbia Business School).
The engineers of the study believe that their results unequivocally prove the effectiveness of policies requiring pay transparency. Unsurprisingly, countries with similar policies (such as the UK) show lower pay disparities based on gender (Gender Pay Gap in the UK: 2018, Office for National Statistics)4.
Our goal is to pass Pay Transparency legislation in New York State that combine the most effective elements of existing regulations. 16 U.S. states already have a statute in place that recognizes the importance of Pay Transparency and seeks to promote it by providing protections to employees who seek to inquire about their colleagues’ wages. Similarly to the Pay Transparency laws in Denmark and the UK, the most encompassing U.S. state laws prohibit employers from outright preventing their employees from inquiring about their colleagues’ wages or disclosing their wages to others, as well as from retaliating against employees who engage in these dialogues. The most effective Pay Transparency laws also include all workers in their coverage (rather than excluding groups like domestic workers and government employees), and provide broad and accessible remedies for employees who have been denied access to wage information.
Transparency and free access to information are beacon democratic values, and ensuring that women are informed of the wages and benefits that their similarly-situated male colleagues earn is essential to closing the Gender Pay Gap. The power of pay transparency spans beyond preventing women from being paid less based on gender— empowering women with the information they need to successfully claim their right to equal pay will alleviate poverty in the millions of families headed by single women (The Impact of Equal Pay on Poverty and the Economy, Institute for Women’s Policy Research)5. In working for the passage of a Pay Transparency statute in our state, we are fundamentally striving for these women to secure higher incomes to provide better resources for themselves and their families.
And because the majority of single-mother and low-income families are headed by minority women of color, our efforts are intersectional in nature (Single Mother Families in Employment, Race, and Poverty in Changing Economic Times, United States Library of Medicine)6. Passing a strong, comprehensive Pay Transparency law will directly alleviate racial inequality by economically empowering these particular families to access education, healthcare, and other social resources to the extent that white women and families are currently privileged to do. With higher wages and stronger benefits, the opportunities that women can provide for themselves and their families is infinite.
This Equal Pay Day, GELC encourages women to critically assess their earnings and collaborate with their employers to determine the extent of their rights to be informed of what male employees are earning in comparable roles. While formal Pay Transparency protections are being developed, it is important for women to begin normalizing these dialogues to create an atmosphere of transparency within their respective work environments. The true power of Equal Pay Day comes from publicly acknowledging the Gender Pay Gap and allowing all women to partake in discussing its effects and developing possible solutions.
The enactment of Title IX of the Education Amendments in 1972 signified the beginning of a serious effort from the federal government to give students equal opportunity to succeed in school regardless of gender. Part of this goal was to enforce a set of comprehensive rules that would keep students safe from sexual abuse and sexual harassment and enforce penalties against schools that do not comply. The latest move by the federal government to undermine the rights of women and girls came last month when the Department of Education took action to strip Title IX of its protections. GELC fiercely opposes the new Title IX Regulations and we submitted a public comment, along with thousands of other organizations and individuals, detailing the dangerous effects that the new regulations will have on victims of sexual misconduct – including permitting schools to not respond to allegations of sexual abuse and imposing greater burdens on student victims of sexual harassment.
Even with the current protections under Title IX, sexual harassment and sexual abuse in schools remains a frequent and widespread problem. This persistence alone demonstrates a clear need to strengthen Title IX regulations, not deplete students of their rights to remain free from sexual misconduct. With school being the setting in which students spend the majority of their time, and a place where youth and young adults are meant to flourish, the importance of these rules in ensuring their well-being cannot be overstated.
GELC strongly opposes any legislation or action that undercuts protections from gender-based violence, or that threatens to impede women’s and girls’ access to equal opportunity; in this case, an education. Thus, GELC’s comments on the proposed regulations to the Department of Education warn of the potentially egregious negative effects on students if these rules are to take effect. We were far from alone in our submission of these concerns: in fact, we joined thousands of students, teachers, parents, and organizations who believe that promoting resources for victims of sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools should be the Department’s priority – not removing necessary standards that will result in doing nothing but shielding schools and perpetrators from taking accountability.
Currently, school leaders are accountable for failing to address incidents of sexual violence that they reasonably should have known about. The proposed rules seek to needlessly raise this standard of liability to situations where school leaders were aware of an incident of sexual violence and deliberately ignored it. This shift in responsibility permits administrators to take a passive role in preventing sexual abuse in their schools, causing incidents of unaddressed sexual abuse to skyrocket. Amending the rules so that “deliberately ignoring” an incident of sexual abuse is the only situation for which schools are held liable, does nothing but shield schools from liability at the expense of student safety.
The proposed rules also make it more difficult to report abuse, specifically for student victims of one of the most imbalanced forms of sexual abuse—abuse by a teacher or faculty member. That is, the proposed rules attempt to shield schools from accountability unless a Title IX administrator was aware of the faculty-on-student abuse (and yes, this applies to student victims under 18 who are victimized by an adult school employee). Where a student is brave enough to come forward with allegations of sexual abuse to a trusted school official – one of the most difficult things to do in any case – the particular “job title” of that person should be immaterial to whether the school administration is responsible to intervene. Furthermore, the proposed rules raise the level of abuse that must be reached before school officials canintervene. In other words, schools will only be required to address abuse that deniesa student’s access to a school program, permitting serious abuse that interferes with students’ ability to learn or causes students to struggle in their programs, to go unchecked. In addition, the new rules state that school leaders will actually be required to ignoreall complaints of sexual abuse that occur off-campus or online, even if the student is forced to see their abuser on campus every day and the abuse directly impacts their education.
The proposed rules ignore the various ways in which sexual misconduct impacts students and overlooks the realities of where student life takes place. Almost 9 in 10 college students live off campus, and much of student life occurs outside of school activities—forming the basis for why schools are currently required to address sexual abuse regardless of where the abuse occurs. These unreasonably high standards for students communicate to many, if not all, victims that they are unworthy of intervention. Victims of sexual abuse are already uniquely discouraged socially, economically and politically from coming forward with allegations of sexual abuse – the new rules codify additional barriers for victims by challenging whether they can even report sexual misconduct depending on confusing and arbitrary standards of the type, severity and location of where the sexual misconduct took place.
Each of these proposed changes baselessly limits schools’ obligations to address abuse, freeing schools from responsibility while placing enormous burdens on student victims. This will surely and directly exacerbate the already high rates of sexual abuse in schools, leaving a growing number of victims with less resources and support than before. The proposed rules are irrational, harmful, and ignore the foundational purposes of Title IX, threatening to dismiss decades of progress and to revert student life to an era where safety from sexual harassment and violence was non-existent. GELC unequivocally opposes these rules, as we understand the effect will be to force girls, women, and LGBTQ individuals, all of whom are overrepresented as victims of sexual misconduct, out of school and out of an education. From our perspective, any amendments to current Title IX laws should be motivated by protecting victims and promoting equal educational opportunities, not by freeing schools from liability to the detriment of its students.
On January 15th, the New York State legislature made history, passing the Gender Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and banning conversion therapy across New York State.
GENDA, which updates New York State’s antidiscrimination laws to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of protected classes, provides critical protections for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, prohibiting discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, and public accommodations.
These protections are the culmination of efforts that span over a decade. While New York’s laws have prohibited sexual orientation discrimination since 2002, many individuals have continued to face discrimination based on their gender identity or expression and have had difficulty redressing these harms. New York City adopted laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and expression in 2002, but the State did not follow suit; while GENDA was first proposed in 2003, it languished in the State Senate for over a decade.
In addition to GENDA, lawmakers passed a law that bans conversion therapy, prohibiting the practice of attempting to change an individual’s sexual orientation. Until now, this atrocious and dangerous practice has been legal in New York and carried out throughout the State and even in New York City, the birth place of the gay liberation movement.There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and suicide.New York is the fifteenth state to ban the practice.
The Gender Equality Law Center applauds the passage of these bills and celebrates this momentous victory for all New Yorkers. Now, the law leaves no room for doubt as to whether our clients across New York State are protected from discrimination based on their gender identity or expression, and individuals across New York will be able to vindicate their rights in court. As federal courts throughout the nation continue to disagree about the scope of federal legal protections for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it is critical for all states and localities to ensure that these individuals are protected.
GELC continues to stand with its clients and all those who have faced discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. If you believe you have been discriminated against based on your sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, please don’t hesitate to reach out to GELC’s attorneys at email@example.com.
For decades, Title IX has been an important tool for students and activists, paving the way for increased equality in education for girls, women, and gender nonbinary students. But today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released proposed rules that would turn back the clock, making it more difficult for sexual harassment victims to stay in school, and decreasing schools’ accountability in preventing and responding to sexual violence. The Gender Equality Law Center strongly condemns these regulations.
Sexual harassment is an epidemic in our schools, and it can harm students at all stages of their education. According to a study by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), 56 percent of girls in grades K-12 were sexually harassed during the span of a single school year. The Department of Justice reports that 20 percent of undergraduate women are sexually assaulted while in college.
To eliminate sexual harassment in our schools, we need a much more robust enforcement of Title IX as it stands. The extensive regulations proposed by the Department of Education would not protect students from sexual harassment; instead, they would chip away at existing Title IX protections, reducing schools’ obligations toward victims and increasing their obligations to students who may pose a danger to their campuses.
Some of the rules we are most concerned about would:
Narrow the definition of sexual harassment that requires a response from the school, limiting recourse for some students who are harassed or assaulted off-campus, or who are able to continue attending school despite the harassment;
Provide accused students with a right to cross-examine their accusers;
Allow schools to give students accused of sexual harassment the right to appeal a determination without extending that same right to accusing students;
Allow schools to increase the standard of evidence required to find a student “responsible” for sexual harassment;
Reduce schools’ responsibility to expediently investigate sexual harassment complaints; and
Reduce consequences for schools that fail to prevent or adequately respond to sexual harassment.
The cumulative effect of these rules is that fewer students will be empowered to report sexual harassment and violence. Those who do report will face an uphill battle; many will be exposed to even greater harms due to requirements that they have further direct contact with their harassers or attackers. As a result, many girls and women will be pushed out of school.
These rules are not final, yet. The public will have 60 days to submit a comment, though GELC has joined with several organizations in requesting for an extended comment period. Stay tuned for more information on this process. GELC implores all students, parents, teachers, and community members to take a stand for Title IX and for the rights of all girls, women, and students whose educations have suffered due to sexual harassment and violence.
Last year, as the #MeToo movement rocked our nation, New York took the lead in passing new laws to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Some of the new laws went into effect this month. Here is what all New York employers and employees should know:
As of October 9, 2018, all employers in New York State –regardless of size—are required to implement an anti-sexual harassment policy and train all employees on sexual harassment recognition and response.
The sexual harassment policies and trainings must meet basic standards set by the State. At minimum, policies must:
Contain a prohibition of sexual harassment;Provide examples of unlawful sexual harassment;Include information concerning the federal and state laws proscribing sexual harassment and note that local laws may also be applicable;Include a complaint form;Contain a procedure for the investigation of complaints;Inform employees of all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially;State that sanctions will be enforced against individuals engaging in sexual harassment and against supervisory personnel who knowingly allow sexual harassment to continue; andState that retaliation is unlawful.
In addition to the state laws that recently went into effect, other requirements will also go into effect in New York City early next year. Many New York City employees will have heightened protection from sexual harassment under New York City Human Rights Law, which applies to employers with 15 or more employees. New York City employers will have the following additional obligations:
Conducting annual sexual harassment training for all employees, including interns;Training employees on bystander intervention;Providing managers and supervisors with additional training; and Maintaining records on sexual harassment trainings for three years.
If you are an employer that is interested in having the Gender Equality Law Center conduct a training for your employees, or if you are an employee who has questions about your rights, please reach out to attorneys at the Gender Equality Law Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Activists, allies, and members of the LGBTQ community mobilized a fast and fierce campaign on Sunday in response to an unreleased Trump administration memo that proposes “narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.” An enormous presence gathered in New York City’s Washington Square Park to reaffirm that transgender and gender non-conforming people cannot and will not be expunged from society. Continued protests are being held in Washington D.C.
The memo from the United States Department of Health and Human Services aims to codify “transgender” out of existence by defining “sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with.” This measure is the administration’s latest effort to roll back the recognition and protection of transgender and nonbinary people under civil rights laws. Earlier this year, the Trump administration sought to bar transgender people from serving in the military and in May of 2017, challenged their civil rights protections embedded in the Affordable Care Act. The Department’s proposed memo states, “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth…The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.” The new definition would essentially eradicate federal recognition (and, thus, protection) of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who recognize themselves as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth.
“The Administration’s memo threatening the lives of transgender people and endorsing bigotry and hatred against trans individuals will not be tolerated,” said Allegra L. Fishel, Executive Director of the Gender Equality Law Center. “We flatly reject the proposals in this memo as undemocratic and cruel. We will continue to fight to protect our trans and nonbinary clients and their right to equal treatment, dignity, and respect.”
Let’s be abundantly clear, being transgender is not something you can believe in or not believe in, support or not support. Trans people exist and will continue to exist. What this policy will do is make it infinitely more difficult to be trans in America. That is, increased violence, poverty, and inaccessible education, healthcare, and workplaces. New generations of trans kids will be silenced, bullied, and pushed further into the shadows. Our work for equality and justice throughout New York persists and we're only increasing that work. Our resolve is stronger than ever. With your help me we can continue to fight for the civil rights and protections for transgender and nonbinary folks in their employment and education. Please take a moment to renew your support today and ensure our efforts continue. We are a community of activists and every dollar helps advance this critical work.
AND TO OUR TRANS AND NONBINARY FRIENDS: we see you, we hear you, and we will show up for you. You will not be erased. If you’re trans or nonbinary and need support today, call the Trans Lifeline at 1-877-565-8860. If you believe you have been discriminated against by your employer or educational institution because of your gender, gender identity or expression, call our free intake hotline at: 1-888-833-4363 or firstname.lastname@example.org for legal assistance.
The Supreme Court has begun its new term, and the Gender Equality Law Center is closely watching several petitions that would give the Court the opportunity to rule upon critical LGBTQ workplace protections.
Most notably, several petitions would ask the Court to determine whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex and other protected characteristics, necessarily encompasses and proscribes sexual orientation and/or gender identity discrimination.
If the Court decides to hear any of these cases, its determinations could critically alter the landscape of federal workplace protections for LGBTQ individuals—including those who are discriminated against and those who are sexually harassed.
Below is an overview of the cases and the rights at stake:
Zarda involved a plaintiff who was terminated from his job as a skydiving instructor after telling a client that he was gay. The Second Circuit reasoned that sexual orientation discrimination is “comparable to [. . .] gender stereotyping, and other evils long recognized as violating Title VII,” and looked to both the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Hively v. Ivy Tech and the EEOC’s determination in Baldwin v. Foxx that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In so ruling, the Second Circuit joined the Seventh Circuit, which was the first federal Court of Appeals to hold that Title VII encompasses sexual orientation discrimination as unlawful sex discrimination.
Bostock v. Clayton County Board of Commissioners
An employee who was denied the right to sue his employer under Title VII has filed a petition for cert on the same issue following the Eleventh Circuit’s decision that sexual orientation discrimination is not prohibited by Title VII. The Eleventh Circuit, in reaching the opposite conclusion as the Second Circuit in Zarda, relied on its 2017 decision in Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, which held that while discrimination rooted in sex stereotyping violates Title VII, discrimination based on sexual orientation does not.
The Eleventh Circuit’s reasoning can lead to bizarre and unfair outcomes—for example, a gay employee who is fired because he presents in a traditionally less masculine manner may be protected by Title VII, while a gay employee who is fired because he is gay—but presents himself in a traditionally masculine way—is not similarly protected.
R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission
The Sixth Circuit recently held that transgender discrimination is necessarily “sex based” discrimination, and is prohibited by Title VII. This case involved an employee who was terminated from the funeral home where she had worked for six years after telling her employer that she was transitioning from male to female.
The Sixth Circuit found that transgender discrimination is prohibited under Title VII both because it is motivated by impermissible sex stereotyping and because “sex discrimination” logically encompasses transgender discrimination for two reasons: first, because it is “analytically impossible to fire an employee based on that employee’s status as a transgender person without being motivated, at least in part, by the employee’s sex”; and second, because discrimination based on a change in sex must be sex discrimination, just as discrimination based on a change in religion is religious discrimination.
The employer raised the federal Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA) as an affirmative defense. RFRA prohibits the government from enforcing a religiously neutral law against an individual if that law substantially burdens the individual’s religious exercise and is not the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling government interest. The employer was able to raise this defense because the suit was originally brought by the EEOC before the individual plaintiff joined. The court found that there was no RFRA violation, as the employer did not show that employing a transgender individual was a “substantial burden” to his religious exercise and noted that “tolerating [the plaintiff’s] understanding of her sex and gender identity is not tantamount to supporting it.” The court held that even assuming there was a substantial burden articulated, the government has a compelling interest in preventing sex based discrimination in employment.
If the Supreme Court grants certiorari, the Sixth Circuit’s analysis that transgender discrimination violates Title VII, as well as its RFRA analysis, which sends the message that religious freedom cannot be weaponized to legitimize discrimination, could both be in jeopardy.
With these three petitions for cert pending, basic workplace protections for LGBTQ employees are at stake. If the Court determines that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status, LGBTQ individuals throughout the country will be more vulnerable than ever to discrimination and harassment in the workplace and other areas. Even if the Supreme Court does not grant cert this term, due to the widening circuit split, it is likely that the Supreme Court will eventually hear these issues and determine whether discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status are prohibited by Title VII.
From September 15th to October 15th, Americans celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of those who come from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
Latinx individuals are the largest minority in the U.S., yet they are the second most discriminated ethnic group, particularly Latina women. The Gender Equality Law Center is kicking off National Latinx Heritage Month by remembering and acknowledging the notable leadership and impact of several Latinx individuals' tireless work to create better conditions and a more equal society for women, LGTBQI people, immigrants, and workers.
Dolores Huerta (1930 - present)
Dolores Huerta is a Mexican-American co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became United Farm Workers. She is a labor leader and civil rights activist who has strongly advocated for immigrants’ and women’s rights. In addition to organizing, Huerta has actively lobbied for laws to improve the lives of farm workers. She was influential in the enactment of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, granting farm workers in California the right to collectively organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions, the first law of its kind in the United States. As part of her feminist contribution, she actively participated in the “Feminization of Power: 50/50 by the year 2000 Campaign” encouraging Latinas to run for office. The campaign resulted in a significant increase in the number of women representatives elected at the local, state and federal levels. In 2012 President Obama bestowed Huerta with her most prestigious award, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Si, se puede!
Sylvia Rivera (1952 - 2002)
Born and raised in New York City with Puerto Rican and Venezuelan roots, Sylvia Rivera was a transgender activist who fought for transwomen and drag queens of color and organized protests for LGBT rights in the 1970’s. In addition to being a leader at the Stonewall Riots, Rivera co-founded, along with Marsha P. Johnson, Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.), an organization aimed to house queens and trans women who were living on the street. S.T.A.R. was the first initiative focused on homeless trans youth within New York City. Rivera was also an early member of groups like the Gay Activists Alliance and the Gay Liberation Front, which were the forerunners of today’s LGBT advocacy organizations. Rivera’s lifelong activism helped put the “T” in the LGBT rights movement. We are incredibly grateful for her advocacy to help pass the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in New York, a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, and education.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor (1954 - present)
Daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, Justice Sotomayor grew up in the Bronx and is the first Latinx Supreme Court Justice and the third woman to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States. Sotomayor’s first case as a Supreme Court Justice was Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, where she dissented from the majority, which held in favor of the rights of corporations in campaign finance. She ruled with the majority to uphold the Affordable Care Act, and in Obergefell v. Hodges, to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states. In addition to her positions on the bench, Sotomayor also taught at Columbia Law School and New York University School of Law. Her career can in part be characterized as working to protect minorities and women’s health.
Hilda Solís (1957- present)
Hilda Solís is the daughter of Nicaraguan and Mexican parents and is the first Latina to serve in the United States Cabinet, as former Secretary of Labor under the Obama Administration. She won recognition from labor unions for pushing wage and hour laws, and also job safety regulations. For eight years, Solis represented the 32nd Congressional District in California, where her main concerns included expanding access to affordable health care, protecting the environment, and improving the lives of working families. As a nationally recognized leader on the environment, she became the first woman to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2000 for her pioneering work on environmental justice issues.
These four women are a tiny sample of numerous Latinas who have fought or are fighting for the rights and lives of women, workers, immigrants, and LGBTQ people. Thanks to them, and their dedicated efforts to empower communities, today we enjoy rights and opportunities that were previously unavailable to some individuals based on their gender or sexuality. Although we still have many mountains to climb, because of their advocacy and perseverance through adversity, we see people in power who are more representative of the vastly rich and diverse culture of the United States.
We proudly celebrate these strong, extraordinary and courageous Latinx individuals, this month and always.
The Gender Equality Law Center wishes all students a safe and healthy start to the 2018 school year. All students — whether they are beginning kindergarten or graduate school — should know that federal law protects them from discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment and assault, and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
In the past week, the New York Times has published about the Department of Education’s forthcoming rules interpreting Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Some of these rules would allegedly scale back protections for complainants, including substantially decreasing the number of investigations into complaints of sexual harassment, assault and rape, and limit the liability for schools.
As victims' rights advocates, GELC is concerned with how the proposed rules could come at a significant cost to women, girls and LGBTQ students. These individuals are overrepresented as victims of sexual harassment and violence, and statistics show that one in five women drop out of school as a result of the institutions' failure to investigate their claims of sexual violence.
In the face of this uncertainty, students who have been harassed or subjected to violence may feel discouraged about coming forward.
But all students and parents – and all professionals who work with children – should know that at this juncture, nothing has changed schools’ legal obligation under federal law to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and violence. Many students, including those who live in New York City, also have protections at the state and local level. This means that schools still have a duty to investigate complaints of sex discrimination and harassment. During and following an investigation, students may be entitled to various accommodations, including:
A no-contact order;An escort between classes or on campus;Residential accommodations;Tutoring;Postponing a test or exam;Flexibility in completing a course despite absences;Reimbursement for lost tuition or student loan interest; andPost-disciplinary proceeding accommodations.
The Gender Equality Law Center is happy to speak with students or parents who believe their rights may have been violated under Title IX or other state and local civil rights laws.
Lauren Betters, Gender Equality Law Center, 347.844.9003
New York — The Gender Equality Law Center in partnership with PowHer New York statewide network of more than 100 organizations, is banding together to ensure that women count in the upcoming elections. The non-partisan initiative — PowHer the Vote — aims to protect and expand women’s rights in New York. Galvanized by the Women’s Marches, #MeToo Movement, and federal assaults on progressive policies, this 10-week social media campaign will inject key issues into the public debate, ensure that candidates address issues of importance to women, and drive voters to the polls on Election Day in November.
Launching on Primary Day, Thursday, September 13, PowHer the Vote will spotlight critical issues every week leading up to November 6 with expert blogs, social media outreach, and online forums each Thursday from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m., focused around PowHer New York’s “10 Questions to Ask Candidates.” Topics include: Child Care, Better Jobs and Equal Pay, Reproductive Rights, Violence Against Women, Criminal Justice, Leadership, and Diversity.
“The 2018 elections are critical for women. Through PowHer the Vote,issues important to women’s economic security, women’s safety, women’s rights, and women’s equality will all be brought to the forefront through various outreach methods designed to educate and inform,” said Beverly Neufeld, PowHer New York President. “Far too often, women and issues pertinent to them are ignored. Through PowHer the Vote, we hope to spotlight what concerns women, and inspire women to vote and set the course for a progressive agenda in New York.”
"The Gender Equality Law Center is thrilled to work with PowHer NY on this critical campaign to PowHer the Vote,” said Lauren Betters, GELC Staff Attorney. “GELC works tirelessly on efforts to close the gender pay gap, to combat persistent family responsibility discrimination against women in the workplace, and to fight the pernicious gender-based stereotypes that continue to play out against women and other gender minorities. The need for women’s voices is more evident now than ever to ensure women have equal access to opportunities, can earn a wage while remaining free of harassment and violence, and are supported in balancing work-family responsibilities. These issues will be immensely impacted by the outcome of the election. Get out and PowHer the Vote – Make your voices heard!”
Although the stakes for women are high, typically New York’s voter participation is low, especially in non-presidential election years. In 2014, only 34.4 percent of registered voters showed up at the polls, ranking New York 48th in the country. An outpouring of women’s votes can have enormous impact on election results, and the PowHer the Vote campaign aims to inspire and engage progressive voters across the state.
PowHer New York is a statewide network of individuals and organizations committed to accelerating economic equality for 10 million New York women and their families. Through the collective action of our 100+ network partners, we build intersectional collaborations, educate the public about combatting gender inequality, convene innovators and advocates to explore and develop new approaches and strategies, and work with legislators and business leaders on solutions.
You can find network lists, candidate questions, and more information at www.PowHerNY.org