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Source: Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson

A bill by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to ensure that women and girls continue to have an equal opportunity for success in academics and athletics, and can pursue an education in an environment safe from sexual harassment and sexual violence passed the Assembly Higher Education Committee with a bipartisan vote of 11-2. 

The bill now heads to Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Senate Bill 169, jointly authored by Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León, will put certain federal Title IX standards, developed during the Obama Administration, into state law to counter a potential roll back of civil rights under the Trump Administration. It will ensure that sexual violence is included in the definition of sexual harassment in the education code, and that all California K-12 schools and colleges and universities implement federal regulations regarding sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention, including adopting and publishing grievance procedures for promptly and equitably resolving complaints.

The bill will also require that schools, colleges and universities take immediate action when they find that sexual violence has created a hostile environment, to eliminate it and prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.

“California has looked to and relied upon the protections afforded by Title IX for decades, but now we are increasingly concerned that this vital civil rights law could be dismantled by an administration that has expressed hostility to the protections it provides and to addressing gender-based violence,” said Jackson. “We have a law. We need to be able to enforce it and this bill enables us to enforce it fairly.”

Passed by Congress in 1972, Title IX is a landmark federal law that prohibits gender discrimination in schools and universities, public or private that receive federal funding. Renowned for providing women and girls equal access to athletic opportunities, Title IX has also most recently been an important tool for combating campus sexual assault.

SB 169 continues Jackson’s long-standing work addressing sexual violence and campus sexual assault.

In 2014, Jackson jointly authored Senate Bill 967 with Senate Leader Kevin de León, California’s landmark ‘yes means yes’ law. It made California the first state in the nation to define affirmative consent and require institutes of higher education to educate students about consent and sexual assault. The bill required increased training for the faculty reviewing complaints so that survivors of assault are not re-victimized by inappropriate questions when they seek justice. The bill also required access to counseling and health service resources when assaults occur.

In 2015, Jackson jointly authored Senate Bill 695, also with Senator Kevin de León, which required public high school health classes to provide students instruction on affirmative consent, sexual harassment, assault, violence, and the importance of developing positive and healthy relationships. The following year, Jackson authored a bill requiring age-appropriate education on healthy relationships in elementary schools.

Jackson is also the author of Senate Bill 186 to allow community college districts to extend their jurisdictions beyond their campus borders and use their existing disciplinary process to discipline, expel or suspend students for off-campus sexual assault and sexual exploitation.

Last year, Governor Jerry Brown signed Jackson’s bill, SB 1375, which requires that all schools receiving federal funding post the name and contact information of their Title IX coordinator on their website, outline students’ rights and schools’ responsibilities under Title IX, and provide information about how to file a complaint under Title IX.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara and western Ventura County.

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