Standing Up for Female Athletes & Correcting Myths About Title IX

In our line or work, we often encounter what can politely be called strategic misinformation about women and girls.

We hear lies about our bodies, about how our reproductive system works (no, women’s bodies do not come equipped with secret powers to “shut down” pregnancy from rape), and about how economic inequality is simply a matter of the choices women make.

We’re just one small-but-mighty organization, and it is impossible to keep up with it all.

Sometimes, though, the misinformation is so ludicrous that it simply must be addressed and corrected. Such is the case with a recent op-ed in the Altoona Mirror about Title IX and girl athletes.

Here’s the response from WLP Managing Attorney Terry L. Fromson, as recently published in the print edition of the Altoona Mirror:

Pennsylvania Schools Are Discriminating Against Female Athletes

This letter is in response to a bizarre, error-ridden op-ed (“The difficult balance of Title IX”) published October 29.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law that protects equal opportunities in education programs. It is not, as the author stated, a part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It was not, as the author stated, “created to force schools to offer the same number and equal funding of sports between the sexes.”  Title IX was designed to eliminate sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs, which includes admission into graduate and professional schools as well as athletics. When it comes to sports, Title IX requires equitable opportunities and does not, as the author stated, mandate equal funding or numbers.

What else? The “Battle of the Sexes” was a commercial endeavor. Bobby Riggs was not forced by law by challenge Billie Jean King (that’s “Billie,” not “Billy”) to play tennis.

With these basic factual mistakes as the foundation, it’s unsurprising the author reaches such cynical conclusions about female athletes. I’ve never met a girl motivated to play what Satka refers to as “boys sports” as a mere gambit to get media attention.

Worst of all is the author’s suggestion that “extreme” compliance with Title IX has produced “horrible injustices” for young boys. I suggest the author review FAIR:PLAY, our new website that allows anyone to easily check the Title IX compliance rate of public secondary and middle schools across Pennsylvania. You’ll quickly find disparities in opportunities for male and female student athletes into the double-digits. Forty-five years after Title IX, the best data suggests ongoing, serious Title IX violations and discrimination against female athletes.

Talk about horrible injustice.

Terry L. Fromson, Managing Attorney at Women’s Law Project

Type the name of any public Pennsylvania high school, junior high, or middle school into the search bar at FAIR:PLAY, and you will be shown the Title IX gap. Learn more about FAIR:PLAY here.

The Women’s Law Project is a public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

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About womenslawproject

The Women's Law Project creates a more just and equitable society by advancing the rights and status of all women throughout their lives. To this end, we engage in high-impact litigation, advocacy, and education.
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