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Local View: Celebrate Title IX, which is about more than sports equity

From the column: "In 2022, previous adverse rulings are being reviewed and rescinded, allowing Title IX to again execute its original intent."

Amy Lothenbach
News Tribune file photo / Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. It ensures opportunities for women’s sports, like volleyball, among other things.
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On Thursday, June 23, the nation will honor and celebrate the enactment of Title IX. The AAUW, or the American Association of University Women, will celebrate this achievement for women and girls with a series of events.

Why is AAUW marking this achievement? Since AAUW’s first meeting in 1881, AAUW has been a catalyst for positive change for women and girls. The organization has, through its advocacy, helped enact invaluable legislation at federal, state, and local levels to support full equality for women and girls. AAUW’s 2021-2023 Public Policy priorities identify the need to strengthen and enforce Title IX.

In order to be strong advocates on issues, AAUW conducts rigorous research studies. AAUW’s own research revealed that two-thirds of college students experience sexual harassment and that approximately 26% of all female undergraduate students and nearly 7% of all male undergraduate students have experienced sexual assault. Additionally, the research revealed that 56% of girls and 40% of boys in seventh grade through high school face sexual harassment.

In addition, girls have 2 million fewer chances to play sports in high school than boys, and 1.13 million more boys participate in high school sports than girls. Less than two-thirds of African American and Hispanic girls play sports, while more than three-quarters of white girls do.

Title IX is more than the issue of sports equity. At the college level, the playing field is not equal in learning and degree majors. The Patsy T. Mink and Louise M. Slaughter Gender Equity in Education Act of 2021 was reintroduced in Congress to ensure schools and educational institutions have the resources they need to comply with this landmark civil rights law. The act would codify protections designed to help students address sex discrimination in all areas of education, including learning, choosing major degrees, and playing sports.

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Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education, protecting staff and students in any educational institution or program that receives federal funds. This includes local school districts, colleges and universities, for-profit schools, career and technical-education programs, libraries, and museums. Title IX requires recipients of federal education funding to evaluate their current policies and practices; adopt and publish a policy against sex discrimination, including against sexual harassment and violence; and implement grievance procedures that provide for prompt and equitable resolutions of student and employee discrimination complaints.

The law also prohibits retaliation for filing a Title IX complaint or advocating for those making a complaint. T itle IX affects all areas of education , including recruitment, admissions, and housing; career and technical education; students who are pregnant, parenting, and/or married; science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, fields; sexual harassment and assault; comparable facilities and access to course offerings; financial assistance; student health services and insurance benefits; harassment based on gender identity; and athletics.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is responsible for the implementation and enforcement of Title IX, its regulations, and its guidance. However, serious attacks to Title IX occurred in 2017. Actions to rescind important guidance documents such as those that clarified what Title IX requires schools to do to prevent and address sexual harassment and violence and to protect transgender students were implemented. In 2020, the Department of Education released a new rule with significant harmful implications for students’ civil rights and for federal enforcement of Title IX. The new rule narrowed the definition of sexual harassment and altered when schools must respond to reports of sexual harassment and violence. In addition, the rule put in place school processes that made it more difficult for students to come forward about sexual harassment or assault.

Now, in 2022, previous adverse rulings are being reviewed and rescinded, allowing Title IX to again execute its original intent. In 2021, the Department of Education expanded Title IX enforcement to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and on gender identity.

Just as the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment marked the achievements of its requirements to become law, so did the passage of Title IX. Its enactment paved a way for equality under the law for women and girls — one that AAUW supports wholeheartedly.

Jan Carey of Hibbing is vice president for public policy for the American Association of University Women Minnesota (aauw-mn. aauw.net/). She invites readers to join AAUW for a webinar celebration of Title IX at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 23. Register here .

Jan Carey photo Borealis Art Guild news release.JPG
Jan Carey

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