What is Title IX, and how has it evolved in American schools over the years?
Legislative leaders have all but shut the door on chances for further floor debate on bills that would afford more rights to college students accused of sexual assault or misconduct .
Nothing is officially dead until the legislature adjourns at 6 p.m. on May 17. But leaders of both houses in the General Assembly say the bills, which would revise Title IX regulations, do not figure in their plans for the session’s dwindling days.
The bills would provide more protection for those accused of Title IX violations than any other state. The Star revealed last week that the lobbyist who created and promoted the bills has a son who was accused and expelled through his university’s Title IX process.
House Speaker Elijah Haahr said Tuesday he didn’t add the bill to the House calendar after it passed committee in March, and it won’t be added now.
“I think it’s unlikely at this point,” Haahr said. “We hadn’t got to a point where the caucus members were comfortable on this, so I chose not to put it on the calendar.”
The Senate version of the bill was debated earlier this month but met a multi-hour filibuster by Democrats. Majority Leader Caleb Rowden said at a Thursday news conference he was “doubtful” it would be heard again in the upper chamber.
He also took exception to how the legislation originated.
“At the end of the day, I think it’s unfortunate that something of this magnitude that maybe should require attention was brought about in this way.” Rowden said.
“I think we don’t always get painted in the best light in Jefferson City, in Missouri politics, and some of that is our own doing and some of it isn’t....In many cases perception is reality, certainly as it relates to voters and their view of what we do, so it’s not a particularly good look for us.”
Lobbyist Richard McIntosh began working for the measures after his son was accused and then expelled through Washington University’s Title IX process. The original versions of his legislation contained a retroactivity provision that might have allowed his son to appeal his case to the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission, where his mother and McIntosh’s wife, Audrey Hanson McIntosh, serves as presiding and managing commissioner.
While Title IX is a federal law, the state can attach additional conditions as part of its higher education funding.
Critics have a laundry list of objections to the bills. They say the measures are unconstitutional, address a problem of false accusations that isn’t widespread and would create a chilling effect to keep victims from reporting their experiences.
Those who already opposed the bills expressed astonishment when they learned about McIntosh’s personal connection to the issue, which he attempted to keep quiet.
Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, who led the Senate filibuster against the Title IX bill earlier this month, said she didn’t learn of McIntosh’s son’s expulsion until The Star published its story.
“When I heard it I was just like, ‘Wow,’” she said. “To have someone push legislation simply because of what happened to his son, that really took me aback. I’m not into revenge legislation, and that was truly revenge legislation.”
McIntosh founded a dark money group last fall called Kingdom Principles, which has bankrolled 29 lobbyists and an ad campaign to push the bills. So-called dark money groups have a tax status that allows them to withhold disclosure of their funding sources. But The Star confirmed that one is St. Louis billionaire David Steward, one of the wealthiest black men in America and a trustee at Washington University.
Steward’s reported motivation for supporting the bill is that he believes Title IX unfairly discriminates against black men.
“The insane kind of leftist fascism that you see going on our college campuses in Missouri right now is a huge problem and this bill is the solution,” said Gregg Keller, a Kingdom Principles spokesman who appeared on the “This Week in Missouri Politics” show earlier this week.
John Gaskin, the St. Louis County NAACP chapter president, who issued a statement last month endorsing the Title IX bills and defending Steward, was suspended last weekend by the president of the national NAACP. Among the reasons, the president said, was his support for the Missouri Title IX legislation, which conflicts with the NAACP’s national stance.