5 ways Title IX transformed school sport (and more)

Fifty years ago today, Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. The civil rights law’s goal was broad: to ban discrimination based on sex when it comes to “any educational program or activity that receives federal financial assistance.”

Although the act applied to all educational programs, it paved the way for huge changes when it came to women’s participation in high school, college and, by extension, professional athletics. Now, it is entering new territory as a vehicle for securing transgender students a place on athletic teams that match their gender orientation. For the 50th anniversary of Title IX, here are five notable ways the law transformed athletics in schools:

  1. The participation of women in sport has grown.

    Since the issuance of Title IX in the 1970s, more women have chosen to play sports in high schools, with their numbers growing from less than 300,000 in the early 1970s to around 3.5 million students in the 2018-2019 school year (the last full year for which there is data). According to the National Federation for High School Sportsas many as 43% of high school athletes are women.

  2. The act has been used in recent years to defend transgender student athletes

    Title IX has been at the forefront of the debate on transgender student athletes and their rights. According to a report since the Human Rights Campaign foundation, 14% of transgender boys and 12% of transgender girls play on a youth sports team. The same report showed that 82% of “transgender and expansive gender youth” chose not to disclose their gender identity to their coach.

    The current debate has tended to ignite considerable debate on whether transgender women should be allowed to compete in the same spaces as cisgender women.

    “School sports are part of the school curriculum [and] they are a way for students to develop strength but also to develop deep relationships, self-esteem, teamwork and a whole other set of really important individual characteristics, “said Jennifer Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. “So the discussion on sports is one that looks for ways to ensure that all students have these opportunities, including competition.”

    Last June, the United States Department of Education said Title IX extends to transgender rights. Despite that statement, 19 states have imposed restrictions on transgender athletes, according to the Associated Press.

  3. Title IX was invoked to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

    Although Title IX does not explicitly mention the protection of the rights of the LGBTQ + community, it has been interpreted by the Biden administration to include the rights of gay and transgender students. Executive order 13988 he stated that “all people should be treated equally under the law, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

    This was based on a 2020 WE Supreme Court decisionwhich protected gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in the workplace.

  4. Schools should now have Title IX coordinators and offices to investigate cases of sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and violence.

    The task of the Title IX coordinator and / or an office is to ensure that the act is implemented and that students are protected from discrimination based on sex and are able to report cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus.

    “Unfortunately, this is not yet universally followed. I think different school districts have different levels of attention that have led to Title IX issues, ”said Emily Martin, vice president of education and workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center. “This is one of the reasons why enforcement remains very important … due to the understanding that there is some liability if Title IX is violated.”

  5. Title IX protects against gender discrimination in both curricular and extracurricular activities beyond athletics.

    According to the NFHSTitle IX protects students from sex discrimination in school curricula ranging from “STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) offerings” to “fine arts courses” and prevents “gender bias in classrooms and programs of the same sex other than those expressly authorized in the regulations implementing the law “.

    This provision takes on even more importance if placed in the historical context of the 1970s, when the act was approved. “It was very common, for example, for girls to be sent to home economics classes while boys were sent to shop classes. It was not unusual for school guidance counselors to discourage girls from certain courses of study or plans for their future because… it was a fact that they would probably get married anyway, ”said Martin of the National Women’s Law Center. “Was [also] very common for PE to be gender segregated.

Title IX has come a long way in the past 50 years, but supporters say there is still work to be done. Martin said some of the issues ahead include: continued efforts to address sexual harassment in schools, respecting the rights of pregnant and parental students, maintaining a focus on the inclusion of LGBTQ + students, and recognizing the unique experiences of girls. of color in schools and the ways in which racial discrimination and sex discrimination intersect.

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