Harvard Law School

Title IX: Sex and Equality on Campus

Semester: 

Winter

Offered: 

2020

Title IX of the Civil Rights Act promises equal access to educational opportunities. This has been one of the most dynamic areas of civil rights jurisprudence in the recent past, and promises to remain so in the future. While the Obama Administration prioritized the protection of students from sexual assault, the current Department of Education has retreated significantly from this position. This leads us to question various aspects of administrative rulemaking, law enforcement and social policy. What is the role of an administrative agency in enforcing civil rights? What power does the public have to compel enforcement? What other avenues are available to achieve sex equality at schools? How do we formulate policy that provides fairness to both sides of case while preserving the integrity of the purpose of Title IX?
Issues surrounding Title IX include rights to sexual autonomy, bodily integrity, gender expression and the right to be free from sex discrimination in an educational environment. This intensive course offers the opportunity to delve deeply into these critical issues of gender equality.... Read more about Title IX: Sex and Equality on Campus

Gender Violence, Law and Social Justice

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2020

This course offers an in-depth examination of the phenomenon of gender-motivated violence. Following a consideration of the prevalence and variation of types of sexual violence and coercion around the world, we consider questions such as: How, if at all, is violence against women different from other types of violence? How effective have legal strategies to address violence against women been, and what shifts in thinking about gender-motivated violence would be necessary finally to eradicate it? How has the #MeToo movement reshaped the possibility of legal reform? How does the toleration of sexual violence shape people’s expectations and sense of entitlements? What are the implications of gender-based violence for the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws? Does equal protection itself have a gendered meaning and reality?
Among the types of violence against women we will consider are: intimate-partner violence; domestic homicide; prostitution; rape; sex trafficking of women and children; and violence against women facilitated by the Internet. The readings consist of primary and secondary materials drawn from several disciplines: law, social science, political science, public health, psychology, evolutionary biology and women and gender studies.
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Contested Domains: Comparative and International Legal Struggles over Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2020

At the intersection of debates about religion, private morality and public policy, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are lightning rods of controversy in most societies. Political polarization has been particularly pronounced with regard to abortion rights, but is also evident in an array of other SRHR issues. Drawing on examples from constitutional and high courts in Latin America and Africa, as well as cases in various regional and international supra-national human rights forums, the course will explore: the historical origins of asserting international legal claims to SRHR; challenges and benefits of turning toward domestic courts and international forums to advance sexual and reproductive health; evolving narratives of women’s agency and state obligations; and power dynamics/conflicts within global SRHR advocacy. We will discuss the limitations of the autonomy narrative and adoption of “reproductive justice” paradigm in the US, and compare that with evolutions of SRHR in other national contexts, as well as in international law. Some of the topics to be covered include: gender-based violence; involuntary sterilization; abortion; access to care (obstetric care/LGBTQ access to care); disrespect and abuse/obstetric violence; SRHR of persons with disabilities; assisted reproductive technologies; and SRHR in an era of conservative populism and backlash against so-called “gender ideology.”
Issues of SRHR present an opportunity to extend thinking on judicial review across contexts of varying levels of democratic consolidation, as well as to critically examine the effectiveness of international human rights law in changing “lived realities.” On the one hand, the marginalization of claimants suggests a place for counter-majoritarian rights protection. Similarly, advocates have sought to set standards in international human rights forums, as these spaces have been perceived as less “tainted” by the political power structures that inflect domestic law and institutions. On the other hand, the morally contested nature of SRHR norms often complicates the claims of courts and supra-national forums to special competence, limits their ability to catalyze the politics of implementation (including within health systems), and inspires backlash. We will explore lessons with respect to how engaging with different SRHR issues can affect the sociological legitimacy of tribunals at domestic and international levels, as well as public attitudes and the dynamics of social conflict.... Read more about Contested Domains: Comparative and International Legal Struggles over Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Gender Identity and the Law

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2020

From participation in the military to hormone coverage for transgender youth, transgender issues cut to the heart of some of the hardest questions we face today about the relationship between law, politics, science, medicine, public opinion, and identity. This course examines this complex and novel area of law in the context of a changing judicial and political landscape. Students will be encouraged to consider all points of view and delve into the strongest arguments for and against efforts to expand legal protections for transgender people.
Taught by a leading practitioner in the field, this course emphasizes the legal tools and decision-making processes involved in doing pathbreaking civil rights work. Students will gain an insight into the strategic and ethical tradeoffs involved in using the legal and political system to enact societal change.
Topics covered include: overview of gender identity and the development of transgender rights; constitutional and statutory frameworks for legal recognition of gender identity; access to sex-segregated spaces and activities; religion-, speech-, and ethics-based objections; access to health care and reproductive technology; non-binary and intersex identities; race and transgender experience; and unique considerations in military, family, and prison litigation.
Class materials include: case law, case documents, legislative materials, regulatory materials, press accounts, legal scholarship, and sources from other academic disciplines.... Read more about Gender Identity and the Law

Gender Violence Legal Policy Workshop

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2020

This workshop offers the student hands-on experience in analyzing, evaluating, and creating legal policy on a range of issues related to gender violence. The three main areas of concentration are campus sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and sex trafficking and prostitution. We advise government officials (local, state and federal); national, international, and local advocacy groups working to stop gender violence; and individuals needing assistance in knowing their rights or accessing services. Recent activities include submitting comments to the White House Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault; helping an advocacy organization on preventing domestic violence homicide; and preparing a training for Middlesex County Police Chiefs on investigating sex trafficking rings.
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Feminist Legal Theory

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2019

This course will examine and compare eight major strands of contemporary North Atlantic feminism: liberal feminism, dominance feminism, cultural feminism, socialist/materialist feminism, economic feminism in a liberal market frame, critical race feminism, postmodern feminism, and the relations between feminism and conservatism. We will read classics in feminist legal theory and case studies allowing us to examine and compare the ways in which various strands of feminism have engaged law and law reform. The goals of this course is to enable each student to make informed decisions about which strands of feminist legal theory work best for them and to give all students a strong understanding of how past stages in the development of feminist legal theory and law reform help to shape contemporary expressions of feminism.
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Critical Perspectives on Transgender Law

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2019

This reading group explores American law related to and affecting transgender, genderfluid, nonbinary, agender, and gender-nonconforming people. We will discuss contemporary cases involving transgender rights, as well as historical cases where the rights of transgender litigants were directly or indirectly contested. Readings will incorporate case law, sociological perspectives, and direct first-person narratives. By looking at law through the lens of transgender experiences, the class will critique legal assumptions about gender and reflect upon how law as a whole could be made less cis-normative.

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Sex Equality

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2019

The relation between sex equality under law and sex and gender inequality in society is interrogated in theory and practice in the context of relevant social science, history, and international and comparative law. Mainstream equality doctrine is probed on its own terms and through an alternative. Cases largely on U.S. law focusing on concrete issues--including work, family, rape, sexual harassment, lesbian and gay rights, abortion, prostitution, pornography--structure the inquiry. Race, economic class, and transsexuality are mainstreamed. The purpose of the course is to understand, criticize, and expand the law toward sex and gender equality, including between women and men, as well as to expand the equality paradigm.

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