“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” – Title IX
Title IX is a comprehensive federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. The principal objective of Title IX, established in 1972, is to avoid the use of federal money to support sex discrimination in education programs, and to provide people effective protection against those practices.
The law has often been leveraged to protect and promote gender equality in schools’ athletic opportunities. Title IX requires schools and colleges that receive federal funds to give women and girls an equal chance to play sports, and to treat men and women equally when it comes to athletic scholarships and other benefits like equipment, coaching and facilities.
Under Title IX, the number of male college athletes increased from 170,384 in 1972 to 228,106 in 2005-06. Meanwhile, the number of female college athletes has quintupled, from 31,852 to 170,526 over the same period.
In other words, it is a success.
But there’s still plenty of work to do toward achieving equality in athletic opportunities, and resources for women’s athletic programs continue to lag compared to men. According to the National Women’s Law Center, though women are 53% of the student body at Division I colleges, they are only 44% of the athletes, receive only 32% of recruiting dollars and 37% of the overall amounts that colleges spend to support their teams.
A recent report published by the Women’s Sports Foundation outlined the many benefits of participating in sports—and the negative health consequences disproportionately suffered by poor women, women of color and women with disabilities as a result of having less access to sports programs.
Gender Equity in Sports in PA
In 2012, Pennsylvania passed the Equity in Interscholastic Athletics Disclosure Act, a law requiring that Pennsylvania public high schools, middle schools, and junior highs annually report data on gender equity in athletic opportunities.
The first year’s report revealed gender disparities that underscore how important it is that Pennsylvania schools are required to submit this data, so that students, parents, coaches and the community at large can identify possible discrimination and ensure equality. (We recently told you about a bill that could have been used as a backdoor repeal of the Equity in Interscholastic Athletics Disclosure Act. After you took action, the bill has been fixed to ensure that it does not threaten this reporting requirement.)
Data from the 2013-2014 school year should have been posted by the Pennsylvania Department of Education last fall, but has not been posted yet.
In recent years, Title IX has been leveraged to try to ensure that schools provide equal educational opportunities for girls and women by addressing sexual violence in campus. Under the requirements of Title IX schools receiving federal funds have a legal obligation to protect students from gender-based violence and harassment – including sexual assault.
Right now, we are participating in a twitter chat about the TitleIX on the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of this landmark law. Follow along at #TitleIXat43.
To call on the Pennsylvania Department of Education to post gender equity in school athletics from the 2013-14 school year, please post the following tweet:
In honor of #TitleIXat43, we are asking @PADeptofEd to post gender equity data from 2013-14 school year
-Tara Murtha, WLP Staff