By Zach H.
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal assistance.” This is a line from Title XI, a federal law, which was passed in 1972 as part of the Educational Amendments.
Essentially, Title IX states that in any school system, from elementary schools to universities, gender equality is always a requirement. This could refer to admissions, course offerings, extra-curricular opportunities, health benefits or anything else that could possibly be tilted in the favor of either gender.
The law was made in response to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which basically enlisted the same rules, only it applied to racial equality rather than gender equality. In the early 70s, a committee of various members of the legislative branch began meeting to discuss the evident problem of gender inequality. They wrote up Title IX and sent it to the Senate in May 1972, where it was approved. It was signed by President Nixon in June and on July 1st, 1972, it officially went into effect.
However, the one category where Title IX has caused the most changes is in high schools in the field of athletics. All schools need to offer an equal amount of sports to each gender. They do not need to offer the same sports, but the number of opportunities needs to be equal. Also, practice facilities, equipment, amount of games, publicity, coaching and other common components of sports teams need to be comparable.
This does not mean that boys' teams, which were typically receiving more funding before the laws came into effect, need to be cut. It just means that the girls' need to be equal, which ideally means that they will just have to improve their programs until they are comparable.
Also, the amount of money spent on the teams does not necessarily need to be equal. The equipment just needs to be of comparable quality. For example, chances are that more money would be spent on the boys' football team than on the girls' volleyball team, but this is just because the boys’ equipment would be more expensive. On the other hand, if the boys equipment was evidently of higher quality, then this would be a violation of the law.
Since the passing of the law, the positive effect on gender equality has been outstanding. In 1971, the year before the law was passed, only 18% of women finished four years of college, which was much less then the amount of men who finished. Nowadays, women actually make up the majority of students receiving master’s degrees. Also, four times as many women participate in college sports than before the passing of the law.
If one compared the success of females in the United States to rival countries, such as the United Kingdom and Russia, they would see that a much higher percentage of women finish high school. The same applies to the number of females acquiring higher education degrees.
If a school does not follow this rule, there could be consequences. For example, if it is determined by the Office of Civil Rights that a school is violating Title IX, it could cause a decrease in national funding. Although no school has actually lost money as a result of a violation thus far, many schools have been sued as a result.
For example, earlier this year, Gregory-Portland ISD, a college in Portland, faced a lawsuit when a female diver, Hayley Emerick, claimed that female athletes were not being treated equally. In the end, the school was forced to pay an $118,000 settlement.
The fact that the cheerleaders and dance teams were originally only performing at boys' games basically was saying that the boys' teams seemed more important to the school, which was the reason for the change. Title IX says that equality needs to be stressed, and this is one step closer to creating the equality.
Nevertheless, it is the small changes like this that will help shape a world where there is no discrimination at all. The evidence of positive changes being made is indisputable. Over two million more girls play High School sports than in 1971, and the amount of girls playing high school basketball has tripled. In fact, Cheryl Miller, a star of the gold medal-winning women’s basketball team at the 1984 Olympics expressed, “Without Title IX, I’d be nowhere,” (U.S. Department of Education). Also, before the passing of the law, girls made up about 1/1000 of athletes receiving scholarships. Now, 1 out of every 3 people receiving a scholorship is female.
In general, it is changing the culture of America because it is making sports seem less and less a male dominated activity. Female athletes such as Mia Hamm and Lisa Leslie are household names and some would say that Title IX may have indirectly led to the creation of the WNBA in 1997. As Title IX continues to make changes to schools everywhere, the outlook is strong for female athletes in the United States.