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Perceiving Subtle Sexism: Mapping the Social-Psychological Forces and Legal Narratives that Obscure Gender Bias


Deborah L. Brake


University of Pittsburgh - School of Law

2007

U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper
Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, Vol. 16, 2007

Abstract:     
This essay seeks to explain the Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education case as an interpretation of discrimination that notably and correctly focuses on how institutions cause sex-based harm, rather than on whether officials within chosen institutions act with a discriminatory intent. In the process, I discuss what appears to be the implicit theory of discrimination underlying the Davis decision: that schools cause the discrimination by exacerbating the harm that results from sexual harassment by students. I then explore the significance of the deliberate indifference requirement in this context, concluding that the standard, for all its flaws, is distinct from and superior to a search for discriminatory intent. The final section offers a brief analysis of what Davis could mean for discrimination law more broadly if courts seriously applied the insights embedded in the Davis case.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 45

Keywords: Title IX, sexual harassment, peer sexual harassment, student harasser, discrimination, school liability, civil rights, gender equity, hostile environment

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Date posted: July 23, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Brake, Deborah L., Perceiving Subtle Sexism: Mapping the Social-Psychological Forces and Legal Narratives that Obscure Gender Bias (2007). U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper; Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, Vol. 16, 2007. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1169582

Contact Information

Deborah L. Brake (Contact Author)
University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )
3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

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