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Title IX, sexual violence focus of SOE “It’s on us” conference

Discussions about gender discrimination and sexual assault took center stage in the “It’s On Us: Title IX, Sexual Violence, Prevention and Trauma-Informed Response In K-12 Schools and Higher Education,” conference. More than 150 participants attended the nearly five-hour event, held in the VCU Student Commons on Jan 20.

Ava Bedden, Virginia’s assistant attorney general and campus safety counsel at the Office of the Attorney General, provided the keynote address, offering her expertise and observations from nearly three decades of experience as a lawyer and Title IX coordinator.

Bedden’s address centered around the importance of a victim-centered and trauma-informed response to sexual violence allegations, stating that, often times, the response is the first step in the healing process for the victims. Bedden also informed audiences of a number of Title IX-related resources available online, and stressed the importance of education and prevention, beginning even at the elementary school level.

Following the keynote presentation, participants broke out into small group sessions, led by campus and community experts. Topics for these sessions included understanding Title IX from both a higher education and a K-12 perspective, gender and identity in athletics, and the use of social media for advocacy.

The program concluded with a resource panel question-and-answer session, with panelist including John Venuti (chief of VCU Police), Kaylin Tingle (VCU LGBTQ violence prevention health educator) and Jen Miller (outreach and education manager for Richmond sexual violence nonprofit group, Safe Harbor).