Advocacy and Opposition to Title Ix

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  • Topic: Title IX, Egalitarianism, Gender equality
  • Pages : 6 (2184 words )
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  • Published : September 25, 2006
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Advocacy and Opposition to Title IX

"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal assistance." Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to the Civil Rights Act of 1964

[Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act is now officially known as Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act as of 2002 upon the death of Patsy T. Mink, the author of the amendment. But for ease, throughout this paper I will refer to the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act as Title IX.]

Since the 1972 conception of Title IX of the Education Amendments, the number of women participating in intercollegiate athletics has increased five-fold, from fewer than 30,000, to more 150,000 in 2001. However, more than 400 men's athletics teams have been dismantled since Title IX became law. Some would say this is due, in part, to Title IX enforcement standards like proportionality. Proportionality requires that an institution's athletic population must be of an equal ratio to its general student body. Among some of the 400-plus teams dismantled by Title IX are several former Colorado State University teams including wrestling, baseball, gymnastics, men's swimming and diving, and men's tennis. Many student athletes no longer have the opportunity of participating in these activities, and the days of the student body rooting for an array of different teams are gone, possibly forever. Now the search is on to find a solution to the problems associated with Title IX if, indeed, a solution is ultimately necessary.

The debate over Title IX is a complex one, with many sides relentlessly attacking each other's approaches regarding the law. The Title IX advocates, largely comprised of women's organizations such as the National Women's Law Center (NWLC), take the approach that the law is the major reason women have achieved somewhat equal opportunities in athletics. The NWLC contends that abolishing Title IX would undo years of progress so far achieved. In sharp contrast with the Title IX advocates are the Title IX opponents, who are largely comprised of the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA), along with former coaches and athletes of programs adversely affected by Title IX. This camp also houses those who believe Title IX simply does not work and individuals who believe the law is now, 30-plus years later, out of date. Richard Epstein argues that "women no longer need Title IX to be heard loud and clear" thanks to changes in cultural and social norms (35). The final two approaches fall between the Title IX advocates and the Title IX opponents—the Title IX proportionality reformers and the Title IX enforcement reformers. Title IX proportionality reformers address the proportionality standards of Title IX, attacking "unfair" tests which demand quotas for female athletic participation. The NWCA also is one of the strongest forces in this camp along with some coaches, athletic directors, and once again, adversely affected former male athletes. Ruth Conniff includes, in this approach, "girls of the post-Title IX generation, who feel pangs of guilt when Title IX is blamed for the elimination of men's sports" (22). The Title IX enforcement reformers argue that universities need more meaningful ways to show compliance than proportionality such as surveys of interest. This group is composed of some athletic directors, coaches, and former male athletes.

Title IX advocates refuse to give any ground when questions arise about what to do with Title IX. Doing so, they believe, could unravel the years of forward progress towards women's equality which Title IX has accomplished in its 31-year history. Title IX advocates value equality which they designate as proportionate numbers of male and female athletes. Title IX advocates unanimously credit Title...
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