A federal civil rights complaint has been filed against the University of Washington School of Medicine (UW Medicine) for illegal discrimination and segregation with its Affinity and White Antiracism Groups. By offering this affinity group program, UW Medicine is violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
The complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights by Mark Perry, senior fellow for Do No Harm, and included an email from Dr. Paula Houston, Chief Equity Officer in the UW Medicine Office of Healthcare Equity. The email, addressed “To the UW Medicine Community,” invites faculty, staff, and students to join one or more of six new groups. Membership to five of the groups are based on race/ethnicity or sexual orientation/gender identity. The “White Antiracism Group (WAG)” session are “for white colleagues who want to support our collective work to become a more equitable, inclusive, and antiracist organization.”
Additional information and registration for the WAG is available from the Office of Healthcare Equity on its website.
The WAG groups are scheduled to meet several times through mid-June, with the first meeting on February 15, 2023. “WAGs are important as an explicit opportunity for our white colleagues who want to stand in solidarity with and support our BIPOC colleagues,” the description states. The description also confirms the intent to segregate group members based on race/ethnicity or sexual orientation/gender identity:
The Office of Healthcare Equity will be convening affinity groups for our Black, LatinX, Asian and Pacific Islander, and LGBTQIA colleagues, to provide supported and protected spaces for members of different groups to connect and support each other.
In the complaint, Perry cites Title VI regulation section § 100.3 (b iii) Discrimination prohibited, which expresses that “Subject[ing] an individual to segregation or separate treatment” on the basis of race, color and/or national origin is strictly prohibited. The “White Antiracist Groups” are a clear violation of federal law. Perry’s complaint calls for an investigation of UW Medicine for this violation, as well as the Title IX violation for segregating faculty, students, and staff on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Have you seen affinity group activities at your school or workplace that support segregation of students or employees in violation of federal law? Do No Harm wants to hear from you – securely and confidentially.
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