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Title IX at 45
May 3rd, 2017 by

The 45th anniversary of Title IX, the groundbreaking antidiscrimination law ensuring protection against sex discrimination in education, is this June. Experts weigh in on progress made in recent years, and what is needed to ensure it continues.

Rising above partisanship and gender politics, Title IX has historically garnered support from both Democrats and Republicans. This, according to Lisa Maatz, vice president of government relations and advocacy for the American Association of University Women (AAUW), is because the law guarantees equal rights to an education for girls and boys, and women and men. Title IX’s mandate extends far beyond its widely known role in expanding women’s access to athletics programs.

 “Title IX is hugely popular, and it’s a bipartisan issue. We don’t expect that to change,” Maatz said.

Echoing this sentiment, Sue Klein, Ed.D., education equity director for the Feminist Majority Foundation and a 34-year veteran of gender-equity research at the U.S. Department of Education, notes that many state and local laws also guarantee equal education rights to girls and boys and to women and men, and that federal agencies such as NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Justice support gender-rights education programs and activities along with the Education Department.

Dr. Klein and the Feminist Majority Foundation urge Title IX supporters to show their commitment to ending sex discrimination in their own communities by building on the Obama administration’s good work, including providing guidance, tools, and public enforcement decisions that have fortified Title IX. In view of all the unknowns posed by a new administration in Washington, advocates are also preparing to celebrate the groundbreaking antidiscrimination law’s 45th anniversary in June, making Dr. Klein’s recommendation all the more timely.

AT THE CORE OF COMPLIANCE: TITLE IX COORDINATORS

The people responsible for making sure Title IX works in schools, colleges, and universities across the country are called coordinators. At least one Title IX coordinator is required to work in every institution nationwide that receives federal funds for education programs or activities, and information about how to contact them should be posted on each school’s website.

Indeed, the Obama administration’s Department of Education encouraged greater attention to the important roles of required Title IX coordinators by providing the Title IX Resource Guide (http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/dcl-title-ix-coordinators-guide-201504.pdf) and the names, emails, and other ways to contact Title IX coordinators in 16,000 school districts and 7,000 colleges and universities, Dr. Klein said.

These school district Title IX coordinators are also encouraged to train and work with counterparts in all their public schools, to establish teams of coordinators with expertise in many areas of Title IX responsibility, such as ending sex discrimination and gender stereotyping in academics, athletics, employment, disciplinary practices, and sexual harassment and assault.

For example, Stop Sexual Assault in Schools (http://stopsexualassaultinschools.org/) has released its action plan on video, “Sexual Harassment: Not in Our School,” which showcases a student gender equity group learning from legal and education experts, student survivors, Title IX coordinators, and victim assistance providers about practical ways to ensure that their schools provide safe and equal learning opportunities.

That’s important because of intensified efforts by students, elected officials, and the Obama administration to deal with issues such as sexual violence, sexual harassment, LGBTQ discrimination, and equal access for women and girls to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs, and to college lab space, research assistants, and other support proportionate to their male colleagues.

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