Title IX Still Not Enforced In A Way That Will Actually Help Women

Passed in 1972, Title IX requires gender equity for all federally funded programs, and often the legislation is credited with opening the door to girls to participate in athletics. It’s fair to say Title IX is partially to thank for the wicked hot U.S. women’s soccer playoffs we just eagerly watched.

via Washington Post Photo Credit: ODD ANDERSEN - AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Any of you who were ever banished to the swampy softball field for practice or wore decades old polyster uniforms while the boy’s team got new ones understand why Title IX exists. (Me and me!)

Girl’s sports teams often get the the shaft when it comes to funding and support. Sometimes being gay doesn’t help either, as exemplified in the film Training Rules, which delves into the drama at Penn State fueled by the homophobic coach Rene Portland. Clearly some progress has been made towards greater equity in sports programs with a sixfold increase in the number of girls playing sports, reaching 25% from a mere 4% within just six years.

But how much of that is thanks to Title IX? As of today, not a single school has lost federal funding for failure to comply with Title IX. Yeah. Ever.

A recent article in the NYT explains:

Schools that find themselves the subject of a complaint can cut an investigation short by signing an agreement with the Office for Civil Rights. In many cases, the agreements do not include specific changes to the programs. Instead, the office asks the schools to investigate themselves and report their findings months, and sometimes years, later.

As an example, the article points to the case of Ball State ,where former tennis coach Kathy Bull filed a Title IX complaint and where 12 head coaches of women’s teams have left since 2005. Two weeks after the complaint was filed, a completed self investigation involving no new research resulted in a report to the Office for Civil Rights claiming no discrimination. You don’t say!

via bsudailynews.com

Title IX has the potential to reverse discrimination and continue providing even more opportunities for young girls, but justice will only be served when cases are provided non-partisan investigation. Until then, self investigation isn’t likely to result in swift change for those suffering discrimination.


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Jamie lives in Boston and is currently a PhD student in Global Governance and Human Security at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She is a freelance writer and also a team associate for the Boston chapter of Hollaback!.

Jamie has written 76 articles for us.

12 Comments

  1. this is soooooo true!! our tennis team had to pay for everything and we only got to use the school gym for weight training like once a month, you know to make room for boys baseball, soccer, wrestling, and football. cuz who goes to watch the girls play anyway?
    the only girls team that got anything directly funded from the school was the basketball team and it was still a measly amount compared to every boys sport. even the cheerleaders had to fund their own shit, and they’ve won nationals and have way more trophies than all the boys teams combined, literally.
    this shit is b.a.n.a.n.a.s

    • yeah…my middle and highschools were like that when i lived in the states. LAME.

  2. I don’t remember any financial discrepancies playing soccer (recreationally), but there was definitely one in terms of coaching. Most of my coaches suuuuuuuuuucked because if they were any good (and weren’t directly coaching their daughter’s team), they would obviously go coach boys. Which is why 11 year old boys have better skills than 17 year old girls. So frustrating.

  3. oh man. bringing back memories of my ‘women in sports’ class!! it wasn’t as gay as I thought it would be. we did watch Love & Basketball though, which is my favorite guilty pleasure movie.

  4. sam

    I’m too distracted by Abby Wambach’s hotness to finish reading this article.

  5. There’s also a serious problem with Title IX not being enforced in terms of sexual assault incidents. Title IX includes sexual harassment and sexual assault as forms of discrimination, and universities are supposed to lose funding when they ignore this type of behavior on a campus. Unfortunately, it seems like most schools don’t worry about that, as Title IX enforcement officers (every college is supposed to have one) only consider Title IX in reference to athletics, if at all.

    Students and alumni at Yale filed a Title IX suit against the university this Spring, I really hope it sets an example for schools to start taking Title IX seriously, in all aspects of the act.

    • Didn’t know about the Yale case, thanks for the heads up. More info in this article from the Yale Daily news discussing Title IX and sexual assault:

      http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2011/apr/05/title-ix-resonates-beyond-yales-walls/

      The article notes:

      “A report compiled by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) found that universities rarely expel men who are found guilty of sexual assault: In cases at 130 schools that applied for federal grants to better deal with assault, only about 10 to 25 percent of men found guilty were expelled.”

      Yikesville.

  6. A couple months ago the NYT had a really good article discussing the ways in which colleges cheat the system in appearing like they are in compliance.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/26/sports/26titleix.html?pagewanted=all

    The Times have actually been doing a good job this spring/summer on writing several article that that not only discuss women’s sports issues but actually look deeply into them and critically analyze the issues. It’s made this gender and sport academic quite happy.

    Probably of interest to many of you (b/c it is to me… one of the leading scholars on Queerness and Gender in Sport has a blog that highlights many of the big stories about being queer in sport.

    http://ittakesateam.blogspot.com/index.html

    • Po

      that was a great nyt article, i always super appreciate it when commenters add interesting links.

      i don’t know anything about this as am i not involved in sports, but i think regardless of the numbers of players, the funding is the issue here. i’m not sure how i feel about government-funded sports program in the first place, but in a given scenario where they exist, women’s teams should be given just as much per player as men’s teams. especially now that professional women’s teams are getting more attention, drawing interest to women’s sports as a whole.

  7. YES! our softball uniforms were old, smelled, and were filled with holes/patches….The girls still looked hot though!

    Maybe if we play in skirts people will want to see girls run around and pretend to play sports…..ya know “dirt in the skirt” style. RAWR.

  8. Aaron Matthews

    I know it’s terrible!! I know my volleyball team just had to deal with soccer uniforms while the other team got brand new stuff. Or the fact that every winter all of these kids were sexually harassed and the schools SUPPORTED it!! The attackers were hailed as heroes!

    Oh wait, I’m a guy. No wonder.

    The soccer uniforms were given to us because the coach felt bad for us and they were getting ready to be thrown out. The girls volleyball team had new unifroms, and things like a coach and gym time. Half way through our season one of the guys’ older sister volunteered to be a coach and we got one practice a week in a church gym at 9pm.

    Then the winter comes and two guys have to wrestle girls. The fact that they felt completely victimized meant nothing. The girls’ right to superior rights trumped the boys’ right to be free from harassment.

    To be fair, that was 15 years ago.

    Surely things have gotten better… or not

    My godson plays hockey. Ice hockey and field hockey. The school won’t even acknowledge that the ice hockey team exists, let alone give them a coach or publicity. The field hockey is completely funded.. but boys aren’t allowed to play on that. Even though he’s just 4foot 8. The hockey cheerleaders get more support than the team itself

    Oh but he gets to go back to his art class.. nevermind, he’s limited to basic art because they spend more money on treble (girls only) choir. (New outfits and a dedicated teacher)

    There’s a difference between being Title IX compliant and not discriminating. Actually, they’re quite nearly opposite each other.

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