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Lawyer: Students With Asperger’s ‘Left in the Dark’ by Leaked Title IX Regulations

Despite op-eds praising the recently leaked Title IX regulations, one lawyer who counsels students with Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism is worried that the new regulations may do “absolutely nothing” to help these students.

Lori Tucker — an attorney and proud mother of an autistic son — started her career as a K-12 lawyer. She shifted to university Title IX during the Obama era, and has since helped numerous students on the autism spectrum navigate Title IX issues.

“My concern with these newly leaked regulations ... 152 drafted pages .... in its entirety, there's only one paragraph on page 69 for ‘Individuals With Disabilities,’" she told PJ Media during a Wednesday interview.

That single paragraph simply invites more comment from the public on “whether the proposed [new Title IX regulations] adequately take into account the needs of students and employees with disabilities.”

The OCR also “requests consideration of the different experiences, challenges and needs of students with disabilities … in postsecondary institutions related to sexual harassment,” the draft guidelines added.

For Tucker, this invitation for public comment is telling, but not for the reasons one might suspect. Tucker says she actually had a private meeting with the OCR’s Candice Jackson in the summer of 2017 about this issue, which she thought went well.

But not long after the meeting, Tucker claims Jackson dropped off all communication regarding students with Asperger’s and autism. Meanwhile, Jackson continued to actively engage with other Title IX activist groups.

Tucker says she couldn’t speculate as to why Jackson stopped responding to her, but admits that disability rights is not a “glamorous” cause. She also admits that perhaps Jackson was too busy. Reached through the OCR, Jackson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PJ Media.

But with all the op-eds about how the OCR under Betsy DeVos will “save our sons” and “end the kangaroo courts,” Tucker urges parents of kids with Asperger’s and autism to be alert.

“Obviously any strengthening of due process is a good thing, not just for conservatives or Republicans but for everyone. Everyone should be happy, because it makes for a stronger process and a better outcome for both sides,” said Tucker.

“But that being said, again, these students with Asperger's or autism, there's nothing in the drafted OCR guidelines [as of now] that is going to address your students' unique needs and issues,” she added.

University of New Mexico professor Geoffrey Miller said there are numerous ways students with Asperger’s might be ensnared by Title IX.

“For example, an Aspie on a date might feel shy, avoid eye contact and body contact, and be too nervous to make good small talk, but then get up their nerve to suddenly go in for a kiss,” he told PJ Media.