Education

ACLU finally gets serious about girl-on-girl sexual abuse

The national office of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a Title IX complaint late last week on behalf of a Carnegie Mellon University student who says school officials did not sufficiently address her claims that she was “verbally and sexually” abused by an ex-girlfriend.

The student, identified only as Gabrielle on the ACLU’s website, alleges that she began a lesbian relationship during her freshman year with the other, unidentified woman. The two women had been — and apparently remain — in the same academic program at Carnegie Mellon.

At some point, the relationship went south. There was a breakup. The complaint says the unnamed girlfriend then stalked Gabrielle and “became verbally and sexually abusive,” reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The ACLU’s Title IX claim asserts that Carnegie Mellon professors and administrators didn’t do enough to prevent harassment by Gabrielle’s jilted ex-lover.

Officials at the famed bastion of engineering and fine arts did institute a “no contact agreement” between the two. They also ordered counseling for the lovelorn ex-flame.

The two women could still attend the same classes, though. Also, the complaint says, the stalking ex-girlfriend inconveniently moved in across the hall from Gabrielle during her sophomore year and undertook “screaming and sudden violent outbursts.”

“Almost a year later, finally ready to say what happened and hold her accountable, I filed a complaint against her through the university’s community standards process,” reads Gabrielle’s narration of events. “The campus police officer accused me of seeking revenge by making the report and questioned why I had been in the relationship if I was being so badly abused.”

The ACLU charges that officials at Carnegie Mellon should not ask such questions when there are harassment allegations.

“That sends a horrible message to our client, as well as to students generally,” said Sandra Park, a senior attorney for the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project.

Park suggests that Gabrielle’s ex-girlfriend should have been suspended from school, particularly since both students share the same major.

Carnegie Mellon officials had no comment about the complaint other than to assure the Post-Gazette that the school “takes very seriously its obligations under Title IX and its commitment to provide a safe and secure environment.”

Title IX is a federal law intended to thwart sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding.

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