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Quick Hit: Addressing sexual violence against students with disabilities

At this point, the fact that schools mishandle sexual violence against students is sort of old news. But Azmat Khan just published powerful investigative piece at Al Jazeera America about harassment and abuse of students with disabilities, who are both particularly vulnerable to these abuses and too-often ignored. Although the article focuses on Gallaudet University, a D.C. college chartered for the education of students who are Deaf and hard of hearing, it implicates all universities that have failed to adequately protect and respond to young people with disabilities.

Khan writes:

Al Jazeera America’s six-month investigation into sexual violence at Gallaudet — which included interviews with a dozen current or former students who say they were sexually assaulted, senior Gallaudet administrators, Title IX and disability experts, and an analysis of the university’s judicial board actions — reveals that even a school explicitly designed for students with disabilities can struggle in dealing with sexual assault.

More specifically, it uncovers troubling allegations from students who said their disabilities made them targets for sexual assault; that their experiences reporting that abuse were complicated by factors like disability, race and sexual identity; and that in some cases, sexual assault was even the cause of a disability, such as depression. Their stories, experts say, offer a window into the dire need for all universities to do a better job of tackling sexual assault among students with disabilities, and into the possible legal ramifications of their inaction.

You can read the whole article here. And if you’re a student survivor with a disability or disabilities and advice for others that you’d be willing to share, I’d love to hear from you.


Washington, DC

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at During her four years at the site, she wrote about gender violence, reproductive justice, and education equity and ran the site's book review column. She is now a Skadden Fellow at the National Women's Law Center and also serves as the Board Chair of Know Your IX, a national student-led movement to end gender violence, which she co-founded and previously co-directed. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she is the co-editor of The Feminist Utopia Project: 57 Visions of a Wildly Better Future. She has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice at campuses across the country and on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, ESPN, and NPR.

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at

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