VAWA 2013 Nondiscrimination Provision: Making Programs Accessible to all Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, and Stalking

April 9, 2014

Last year, we worked together in passing the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013). New provisions in VAWA 2013 include measures that will strengthen our national response to sexual assault, focus attention on reducing domestic violence homicides, and recognize the needs of younger girls who are victimized.   And for the first time in a federal funding statute, VAWA 2013 explicitly bars discrimination based on actual or perceived gender identity or sexual orientation - as well as race, color, religion, national origin, sex or disability. 

This groundbreaking provision will ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking are not denied, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, access to the critical services that OVW supports. 

The provision took effect on October 1, 2013 and applies to all awards that OVW will make during this fiscal year and in the future. 

I am pleased to announce that the Department has released a set of “Frequently Asked Questions” – or “FAQs” – to help our grantees better understand what their obligations will be under the nondiscrimination provision. These FAQs include important guidance, including information about the scope of the new requirement, how it affects operations of a grantee that are not funded by OVW, when a grantee may provide sex-specific or sex-segregated services, and how to provide such services without discriminating against transgender victims. I hope that the FAQs will answer many of your questions and give you fresh insight into how to make your programs accessible to all victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. 

After you have reviewed these FAQs, you may have more questions or comments about the nondiscrimination grant condition and how it applies to your work. If you do, I urge you to reach out to the Office of Civil Rights in the Office of Justice Programs at VAWAcivilrights@usdoj.gov. We know that these FAQs do not address all questions that may arise about the new provision, and I expect that, over time, the Department will update and supplement the FAQs as appropriate. 

As OVW makes its FY 2014 awards, I look forward to working with our entire grantee community to ensure that our programming meets the unique needs of every victim and survivor.