When Title IX was enacted 50 years ago, gender discrimination in federally funded education programs officially become illegal.
In the decades since, much debate has taken place about what Title IX means, who it applies to, and what it encompasses. As The Inquirer tells the stories of Philadelphia’s Title IX, here’s everything you need to know about Title IX:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of gender, be excluded from participation, denied benefits, or discriminated against in connection with any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
Title IX is a federal civil rights law. It was drafted by U.S. Representatives Patsy Mink and Edith Green, then introduced to Congress by Mink and Democratic Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana as part of the 1972 Education Amendments. Then-President Richard Nixon, signed it on June 23, 1972. .
When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, which inter alia prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin, it called for the desegregation of public facilities and prohibited rules voting and unequal registration conditions. While the original Civil Rights Act did not mention gender discrimination, it was added in Title VII of the Amendments. However, the law still did not mention discrimination in education or in the fields of education, so Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 sought to address this issue.
These two things encompass a variety of topics, including recruiting and admitting students to schools and programs and the counseling opportunities provided. Financial assistance must be granted on an equal basis. People should have equal opportunities in athletics. Sexual harassment, including sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence, is considered gender discrimination and prohibited, as is retaliation for any allegation. Pregnant students and parents are protected, as are LGBTQI+ students. Discipline should not be biased based on the gender of a student or participant. Single-sex education should be equally extensive and available for each gender. And employment in these areas must also be free of discrimination.
Athletics is considered an educational activity – teams are associated with schools from universities and schools also offer physical education.
Although initially making no mention of sports, Title IX has become best known for its effect on them. This happened after it was argued that it shouldn’t be about sports. Two years after Title IX was passed, Republican Senator John Tower of Texas proposed the Tower Amendment, which stated that revenue-generating sports should be exempt from Title IX. His proposal backfired. Not only was it rejected, but it also led to the widespread misconception that Title IX is only about sports.
Tower and his supporters tried three more times to pass bills that would restrict Title IX’s power over revenue-generating sports. They felt that Title IX did not take into account a sport like football which required more expensive equipment, more players and generated more revenue.
The NCAA first lobbied against Title IX, fearing it would harm men’s athletics, and he supported many bills proposed by Tower and his supporters. However, as women’s sports became more popular, the NCAA moved from dropping women’s championships to the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women to offering women’s championships itself. This ultimately led to the demise of the AIAW.
People keep saying Title IX hurts men’s sports. They say more men are interested in sports, so providing equal opportunities for men and women is not fair. They point to the many men’s programs that were cut so universities could stay Title IX compliant, a practice that began in the 1990s when schools couldn’t afford to expand women’s programs and instead decided cut. Opponents of this argument say the unequal opportunity for women in the past is what has led to a difference in interest.
The NCAA now states on its website that Title IX actually helps men’s sports because it prohibits discrimination for both genders and that the reason Title IX is seen to help women more is because women have a longer way to go to achieve equality.
The big recent debate is whether Title IX protects transgender athletes. Barack Obama’s administration said it was, but Donald Trump’s administration reversed that decision. Joe Biden issued Executive Order 14021 to include gender identity and sexual orientation in the amendments, but this is still under review.
In 1984, in Grove City College v. Bell, the Supreme Court ruled that Title IX could be applied to a private school that did not receive direct federal funding. However, this would only apply to the Grove City Financial Aid Department, not the school as a whole. The Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 overturned the precedent set by this ruling, requiring all institutions that receive direct or indirect funding to comply. Almost all colleges fall under this umbrella because their students receive federal financial aid, even though the school itself does not.
In 1971, less than 300,000 girls played sports in high school, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations, which accounted for about 8% of boys’ attendance figures. By the end of the first decade, that number had risen to 53%. Girls competed in 14 high school sports in 1971 compared to 26 male sports. Now boys and girls participate in more than 50 sports across the country. Synchronized swimming is the only sport without a men’s team in the country. Girls participate in all sports, although their participation numbers are 75% of boys’ participation numbers.
In addition to participation figures, it has recently been pointed out that there are major differences in the facilities for women’s and men’s sports. when a video comparing the weight room during the NCAA Men’s Women’s Basketball Tournament went viral. When the NCAA hired a law firm to investigate the equity issues, the 153-page report revealed that the NCAA spends much more on male athletes than on female athletes.
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Now that college athletes can enjoy their names, images and likenesses, the disparity could grow rapidly. And as schools struggle to adapt to the NIL era, they must ensure they provide the same opportunities for male and female athletes, even if men’s sports are seen as money-makers.
As the popularity and relevance of women’s sports have grown, the number of male coaches and administrators has increased while women in these roles have declined. There are fewer women in positions of power and their salaries are much lower than those of their male counterparts.
While Title IX states that there must be an equal number of scholarships spent on men’s and women’s sports in proportion to enrollment, it does not state that the same amount of money must be spent on each. For example, football leggings are much more expensive than women’s volleyball leggings. However, the quality of everyone must be the same, especially within the same sport: The women’s hockey team must have the same quality of equipment as the men’s hockey team.
Schools also don’t have to offer the same teams for men and women, just the same overall number of opportunities.
The NCAA itself does not have to comply with Title IX, but its member schools do. This was reinforced by a unanimous decision rendered by former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1999.
Each school must have at least one designated person to coordinate the school’s compliance with Title IX. At the national level, the Civil Rights Office assesses compliance. Schools must pass one of three tests: 1) the number of men and women participating in sports is proportional to the school’s enrollment; 2) the school has a history and evidence of current efforts to equalize opportunities; or 3) the school strives to accommodate the interests of the underrepresented gender in gender-dominated sports. They must also offer scholarship opportunities and equal treatment.
Giana Han is a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer