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 education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. — 20 U.s.C. §1681
As someone born after Title IX, I have to admit that it’s hard to believe there was a time when women couldn’t do all the things that Title IX now ensures. Because of this landmark legislation, girls can more fully participate in sports, something I was very happy to do while in school, and something that provided me with a more comprehensive education. The desegregation of not just sports, but education in general, is something that benefits boys and girls. Not only can girls take advanced math and “shop” classes, but boys are free to take classes on child care, or “home ec.” Such equity allows for a broader education and for a dismantling of taboos. Why should only boys learn how to fix a car, and only girls learn how to sew, when such skills are beneficial to everyone? Besides, you know who founded Cisco Systems and pioneered the early days of the Internet? A husband and wife, that’s who. Thank goodness for Sandy Lerner and Leonard Bosack, and thank goodness for Title IX.
The inclusion of sports programs for girls is probably the most visible and widely known component of Title IX, but the law does much more. Among these are:
- Protections from pregnancy and parenting harassment
- Protections from bullying
- Protections for students from sex discrimination
- Protections from sex discrimination in employment, protecting staff as well
- Mandates equity in career and technical education programs (think equity in programs like nursing and construction)
- Protects women and girls right to STEM education and institutional resources (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)
Just to be clear, here is what Title IX does NOT do:
- It is not an entitlement program that offers benefits to women and girls only.
Title IX may have been born out of a need to secure equal rights for girls and women, (and to dispel such myths as the one that stated if a woman ran too much her uterus would fall out. Seriously.) but as all dismantling of sexism does, it benefits everyone. Boys and men too. This piece of gender neutral legislation offers guidelines and tools for all students, to protect against sex discrimination in all its forms, and assure equal access for everyone, to all classes of their choosing. While is has not erased all instances of students being harassed based on their gender, nor has it created parity in areas like engineering and mathematics, it has done a great deal to provide opportunities previously denied to girls, and provided protections against bullying that students of all gender identities have benefited from. There is still a lot to do, but we also need to remember how far we have come. Women are running in marathons now, and no one’s uterus has fallen out. Myth dispelled. Progress achieved.
This blog is part of the Title IX blog carnival. Tweeting about this? Use this hashtag: #T9blog