What Is Title IX?

Tiger Stadium

Tiger Stadium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Title IX (pronounced Title Nine), part of the Education Amendments of 1972, became law on June 23, 1972.


When I was in elementary school, there were sports programs for both boys and girls.

But, by high school, it was the boys’ sports programs, primarily football and basketball, that got all the support of the school, and, apparently, the money.

Girls, except for physical education class, largely dropped out of sports after sixth grade.

Title IX said, “Not so fast, schools.

Where are your competitive sports teams for girls?

And, if you don’t have them, why not?

Girls have an equal right to participate and compete.”

I remember the arguments.

  • Girls aren’t interested in sports.
  • Girls don’t like to compete.
  • The sports events make money for the schools.

It sounds quaint, now.

In the first place, nothing is true of all girls or all boys.

Some girls like to compete in physical activities. Just like some boys don’t.

But, though I never had any daughters, the argument for Title IX that won me over was that girls would not be able to compete in business as well as their male counterparts if they hadn’t had experience in competing, team-building and leadership, experience that was routinely available to boys through sports.

What does Title IX say?

“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…”

So, even if schools had to cut some of their less popular sports for boys, as many did, girls couldn’t be excluded from sports, since they were part of the educational curriculum.

Although the intent of its drafters, Representative Edith Green, Representative Patsy Mink, and Bernice Sandler at the University of Maryland, was to level the playing field for women in employment at federally-financed institutions, like schools, sports programs were where the most effect was felt.

Senator Birch Bayh introduced Title IX to the Senate.

He was also active in trying to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, barring discrimination of women in the workplace, but especially in schools.

“We are all familiar with the stereotype of women as pretty things who go to college to find a husband, go on to graduate school because they want a more interesting husband…and never work again.”

“The desire of many schools not to waste a ‘man’s place’ on a woman stems from such stereotyped notions.”

“But the facts absolutely contradict these myths about the ‘weaker sex’ and it is time to change our operating assumptions.”

Senator John Tower, from Texas, home to a solid tradition of high school football, tried to get the Act amended in 1974 to exclude revenue-producing sports.

His amendment was rejected, but a softer Javits amendment was adopted to include “reasonable provisions considering the nature of particular sports.”

Eventually, the courts ruled that any school receiving any federal assistance, direct or indirect, had to comply with Title IX.

Only gender-specific activities, like Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and social clubs, like fraternities and sororities, were excluded.

Included are band, science and math education and access to health care and dormitories.

It also banned discrimination based on pregnancy, parenthood or marital status.

Schools tested compliance rules in the courts.

Louisiana State University changed their policies after a court ruling when they had denied funding for a women’s volleyball team to go to a tournament in Hawaii the same year the men’s basketball team traveled to a tournament.

Since Title IX, nine times more women are participating in high school sports and four and-a-half times more are participating in college sports.

At the same time, many schools have dropped sports that used to be open only to men:

  • Cross-country
  • Indoor track
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Rowing
  • Outdoor track
  • Swimming
  • Wrestling

In high school, my son ran cross-country on a co-ed team.

Did you have daughters that benefited from Title IX?

Were there any sports you would like to have joined if you’d been encouraged?

What are your granddaughters’ favorite sports?

To you and encouraging your grandchildren to enjoy a lifetime of healthy activity.


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers


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