Vice President Joe Biden announced yesterday that the Department of Education is rescinding a 2005 policy that allowed schools to show compliance with Title IX by administering email surveys to gauge interest in sports by the underrepresented sex. This is a great step forward in demonstrating the DOE’s commitment to enforcing Title IX and stressing the importance of equitable athletic opportunities for male and female students.
The policy dealt with the third prong for assessing compliance with Title IX, which requires a school to show that it is meeting the athletic interests and abilities of the historically underrepresented sex. The change allowed schools to use email surveys of students to assess their interest in sports and could equate lack of response to the survey with lack of interest in playing sports.
This model put the burden of complying with Title IX on students and provided schools with an easy way to escape accountability in the eyes of the law. Luckily, it was never widely adopted because the NCAA advised its members to ignore it.
This decision stresses the importance of providing equitable athletic opportunities and treatment to male and female athletes. We’re happy to see the Obama Administration and the Department of Education working for gender equity. It also reiterates the need for the Pennsylvania legislature to pass SB 890 and HB 2061, which would give parents, students and community members the tools they need to advocate for gender equity in their schools’ athletics programs. Make sure your state senator and representative know about your support for these bills – take action here.