The AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund (LAF) works to combat sex discrimination in higher education and the workplace.
LAF initiatives include community and campus outreach programs, a resource library and online advocacy tools, a Legal Referral Network, and various research reports. LAF also provides support to workplace sex discrimination cases that have the potential to make a difference for all women.
Case Update: Victory in Title IX Suit
In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit overturned a lower court’s dismissal of the LAF-supported case Parker v. Franklin County Community School Corporation, an Indiana high school athletics lawsuit. The suit alleges that the scheduling of girls’ basketball games violated Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. The plaintiffs argue that the majority of boys’ games were played in prime time — on Friday and Saturday nights — while the girls’ games were relegated to weeknights. They say these schedules unfairly put academic burdens on the girls by forcing them to compete on school nights, discouraging crowd support, and making the girls feel like second-class athletes.
Originally, the case was dismissed by the U.S. District Court for Southern Indiana, which held that school districts are “arms of the state” that are immune from suit in federal court for constitutional violations. On January 31, that ruling was overturned by the 7th Circuit, which remanded the case back to the lower court to determine “whether any genuine issues of material fact exist as to the plaintiffs’ claims.”
LAF Case Featured in Sundance Award-Winning Film The Invisible War
The Department of Defense estimates that about 19,000 military service women and men were sexually assaulted and raped in 2010. The widespread problem of sexual assault in the military is the subject of the new documentary The Invisible War. The documentary features several of the plaintiffs from the LAF-supported lawsuit Cioca v. Rumsfeld, including the lead plaintiff, Kori Cioca. It also features her attorney, Susan Burke. The documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and earned the Audience Award.
LAF Program Manager Holly Kearl attended a screening and survivor speak-out, where she was able to meet with Cioca (see a photo on AAUW’s blog). In an upcoming Program in a Box, AAUW members will learn what they can do to address the issue of military sexual assault. In the meantime, please contact your representative about the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act, donate to AAUW to help offset the legal costs of the lawsuit, and visit The Invisible War’s website to learn about other actions you can take.
Crossing the Line Program in a Box
Download the Program in a Box for the AAUW research report Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School. It includes instructions for giving a presentation on the report, distributing reports in your community, and pitching the 30-second public service announcement “Pick-Up Line or Crossing the Line?” to local television stations. Please ensure that educators, parents, and students in your community see this report. Share the online copy or order print copies from ShopAAUW to distribute in person.
Apply for Funds to Hold a Campus Program
AAUW members may apply for up to $750 to hold a campus event on a sex discrimination topic. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. For event ideas, review the LAF Campus Outreach Program in a Box.
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to LAF to help balance the scales of justice for women.