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Posts Tagged ‘Title IX’

Although great advances have been made in the last 40 years thanks to Title IX, the fight for women’s equality in athletics is far from over. The High School Athletics Accountability Act (House) and the High School Data Transparency Act (Senate) were reintroduced this week by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to help further gender equality in school athletics. The bills specifically require that high schools report basic data on the numbers of female and male students in their athletic programs and the expenditures made for their sports teams.

See more of our cute, awkward, and awesome photos celebrating National Girls and Women in Sports Day on our Tumblr

Federal law already requires colleges to report this data, but the same standard is not required of secondary institutions. High schools currently collect this data; it is just not being publicly reported. This lack of transparency undermines the purpose of Title IX; without transparency, there can be no reform. As it stands, girls comprise half of the high school population but receive only 41 percent of all athletic participation opportunities — 1.3 million fewer female than male high school athletes — and sometimes receive inferior coaching, equipment, facilities, and scheduling. Further, offering girls equal opportunities in sports is about achieving more than equality; studies have shown that girls and women who participate in sports are less likely to get pregnant, drop out of school, do drugs, smoke, or develop mental illnesses.

In my own high school, I witnessed and experienced many inequities in our athletic program. Going to a “game” almost always implied a men’s competition, whether it was basketball, soccer, or swimming. Even female student athletes I knew frequently talked about watching men’s games — including attending as a team to root for their male counterparts. However, I don’t think I ever heard any male student athletes talk about returning the support for their female peers, and unsurprisingly when I did attend a women’s basketball game, the bleachers were nearly empty.

Courtney.track.NWGSD2013

See more of our cute, awkward, and awesome photos celebrating National Girls and Women in Sports Day on our Tumblr.

This isn’t to say that I believe that the High School Athletics Accountability Act or the High School Data Transparency Act would necessarily change the reality: We have a long way to go to achieve equality in the minds of both women and men when it comes to sports. But these proposed laws take a step in the right direction. When the inequities are out in the open we can more readily act to resolve them. And in time, with more opportunities and resources, girls’ sports will come into more prominence, and maybe one day we will see the bleachers populated with male student athletes rooting for their female counterparts.

As we work toward this goal and honor the 27th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day, please contact your legislators and ask them to co-sponsor the High School Athletics Accountability Act to help increase transparency and strengthen gender equality in high school athletics.

This blog post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Sarah Lazarus.

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This week, so-called National School Choice Week, many pro-voucher groups are trying to argue that vouchers are good for our schools. This “school choice” language promises parents improved results while failing to mention the serious civil rights problems with vouchers. I have seen this firsthand in Michigan and know that we can have success fighting back against voucher schemes if we remain vigilant.

In September 2011, I testified before the Michigan Senate Education Committee in Lansing on a package of education reform bills. One of the bills, S. 621, would have weakened Michigan’s public schools by creating a private school voucher system. This would have diverted public funds to private and religious schools and away from the public schools that desperately need those resources. In my testimony, I told the committee why I opposed the voucher proposal.

I said that requiring financially stressed districts to bear the burden of educating private school students, taking desperately needed funds away from the public schools, would be bad public policy and would hurt students. School voucher programs also funnel taxpayer money to private schools that do not have to follow civil rights laws such as Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my tax dollars going to a school that doesn’t have to obey Title IX.

I had the honor of testifying alongside several education experts, whom I was then able to recruit for AAUW of Michigan’s efforts to educate people about this bad legislation. Although we were able to modify the proposed voucher legislation, there are still threats to Michigan’s public schools.

AAUW believes a strong, free public education system is the foundation of a democratic society, and we have long opposed diverting public funds to private or religious elementary and secondary schools. As long ago as 1937, the AAUW legislative program called for “free public instruction of high quality available to all, since popular education is the basis for freedom and justice” and in 1955 stated that “universal education is basic to the preservation of our form of government and to the well-being of our society.”

AAUW of Michigan is working with coalition partners all over the state to oppose these voucher proposals. The fight to protect our children’s right to a quality public education is far from over.

This post was written by AAUW of Michigan Public Policy Director Barbara Bonsignore.

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Warning: The content of this post might trigger unpleasant memories for anyone who has experienced sexual assault.

Last summer in Steubenville, Ohio, two 16-year-old high school football players allegedly raped a teenage girl at a party. The two young men have been charged, and the case made national headlines after the New York Times published a detailed article in December about what happened and after the activist hacker group Anonymous posted a video of teenagers making jokes about the alleged rape.

There have been many passionate, important articles and opinion pieces written in response to this horrific incident. Over the weekend, more than 800 people held a peaceful protest calling for justice for the survivor.

What I want to add — since the alleged assailants, the bystanders, the survivor, and the young men cracking jokes about rape were all high school students — is that this should be a wake-up call to school officials and communities to address sexual harassment and sexual assault in their schools!

Crossing the Line coverIn 2011, I co-authored Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School, AAUW’s national study of students in grades 7–12 that showed that sexual harassment is still a widespread problem. Nearly 60 percent of girls and 40 percent of boys said they had experienced sexual harassment during the previous year. One-third of girls and one-fourth of boys said they had witnessed sexual harassment.

Physical harassment was not uncommon either. During the school year studied, 4 percent of girls and 0.2 percent of boys reported having been forced to do something sexual, and 13 percent of girls and 3 percent of boys had been touched in an unwelcome sexual way.

Many students saw these experiences as “no big deal,” and sexual harassment was understood as “part of school life.” Only 9 percent of the harassed students felt comfortable reporting their experiences to anyone at school.

It’s not a stretch to imagine that many of the students who harass and assault at school also do so outside of school, including at parties like the one the alleged Steubenville rapists attended, because sexual abuse is normalized in our society and perpetrators rarely see anyone punished for their actions.

It’s also not a stretch to say that schools should do more to address sexual harassment.

Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, schools must inform students that sex discrimination — including sexual harassment — is prohibited, publicize a grievance policy, and have a trained Title IX coordinator available so students can easily report incidents.

After AAUW’s 2011 report was released, I gave numerous talks across the country. Many AAUW branches that invited me to speak tried to set up meetings with Title IX coordinators. But in location after location, they could not find a single Title IX coordinator, even in large cities with many school districts. In speaking with people who regularly work on Title IX issues, I learned that this scarcity is pretty common.

I spoke at several bullying conferences and events. I received mostly blank stares when I asked people — including teachers and school administrators — if they knew what Title IX was or if they knew the names of their Title IX coordinators. At each of these conferences, I was the only person who talked about sexual harassment.

It was worse when I worked with AAUW’s Campus Action Project (CAP) teams. Each year, AAUW grants up to $5,000 to fund grassroots projects that use the recommendations from AAUW’s latest research report. In 2011–12, seven CAP teams focused on the Crossing the Line recommendations. I was appalled when most of the teams faced roadblocks as they tried to carry out their very noncontroversial projects. The following is just one example.

When one team asked to have access to a few high school students to conduct a focus group and then work with them to create an informational poster campaign, the school at first agreed. Then, when it came time to set up the focus groups, the school cancelled, saying in an e-mail that the focus group was too “controversial in nature” and that the discussion of the students’ experiences might obligate the school to report or investigate the incident “as required by law.”

When school administrators have this kind of attitude and it is combined with a culture that trivializes sexual harassment and assault, is it any wonder that sexual harassment and assault are rampant in most schools? Is it any surprise that perpetrators at school may very well become perpetrators outside of school?

It is time for school administrators, teachers, parents, and community members to finally acknowledge that sexual harassment and sexual assault happen in our schools. It’s time to talk to students about it, follow Title IX guidance, and make preventing harassment and assault a priority!

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AAUW hosted a Twitter campaign last week to gather recommendations for what President Obama and Congress should do on their first days of the new term. We asked: What do you want to see on #DayOne? Dozens of Twitter users answered, and their priorities make for an ambitious to-do list. We’ll tweet the full list at Congress and Obama.

AAUW will also send the re-elected Obama administration a list of AAUW priorities for the first 100 days of the new term. These include issuing an executive order outlawing federal contractors from retaliating against employees who ask about compensation, requiring federal agencies to conduct Title IX compliance reviews at all institutions receiving federal funds, and reversing the decision to restrict the purchase of Plan B emergency contraception to women 18 and over. We outlined many of these priorities in our September 2012 report on the Obama administration.

Some of the topics included in Twitter users’ requests were pay equity, infrastructure spending, high-wage jobs, access to Plan B, Title IX compliance, filibuster reform, climate change, repealing the Hyde amendment, immigration reform, reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, unemployment benefits, solar panels on the White House, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. See a few examples of the tweets we received below. Even if you didn’t participate in our Twitter campaign, don’t let your voice be silent now that you’ve voted. Use your voice to hold elected officials accountable.

@HBsmalls: On #dayone, I want the difference of having three more #women in the #Senate to be palpable. bit.ly/YZL7fC

@patrickryne: on #dayone, i want my parents to feel confident about me & my future happiness #marriageequality #noh8 bit.ly/YZL7fC

@ashually: On #dayone I want to see Congress address the VAWA and stop putting women’s lives in danger!

@LisaMaatz: On #DayOne I want Pres. Obama to step up his nomination of women to cabinet and agency positions and to the bench. #AAUW

@NorthernTwit8: #DayOne: Appoint a bipartisan commission to fix our broken election system — no more standing for hours in line to vote in OH and FL.

@MDHillRaiser: @LisaMaatz Equal pay for #Women. Reverse #ClimateChange #DayOne

This post was written by AAUW Political Media Coordinator Elizabeth Owens.

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I opened up my Facebook newsfeed last Thursday morning and found that an article about my alma mater, Amherst College, had been shared overnight an astounding 57 times. Two hours later, the article had been shared another 20 times. Three hours later, 40 more. As a recent Amherst graduate, I was stunned by the story, which has been featured on well-known blogs like Jezebel and the Huffington Post.

via Picasa user David Emmerman

On October 17, the student newspaper published a story about former Amherst student Angie Epifano, who described a harrowing experience of being raped in a campus dorm room on May 25, 2011, and what she says was the administration’s mishandling of her attempts to heal. The article has sparked a national dialogue on colleges’ sexual assault and harassment policies just weeks after a sexual assault Title IX lawsuit was filed at Wesleyan University and the report of a misogynistic T-shirt incident at Amherst.

Shortly after the article went viral, a friend invited me to a Facebook group created by alumni to begin a conversation on what the Amherst community can do in addition to sharing the article. Browsing the online group, I came across some of the most touching stories and insightful comments by students I used to sit next to in class and in the dining hall who revealed that they too are survivors. They, like Epifano, say they were hurt at Amherst and did not feel they received the help they needed. They too courageously spoke out about the administration’s reported push for struggling survivors to take time off while their attackers continued their educations without interruption, of the difficulty of disciplinary hearings, and of how easy it is to feel ashamed and alone on such a small campus. As I read these stories, I heard the suffocating silence shatter as students came forward with their unhappiness at a school that has improved the lives of many but may have paralyzed many others.

When I went to click the Facebook “share” button to repost Epifano’s story on my timeline, I paused. I thought of what change sharing one person’s story could really make and quickly realized that it is the collective duty of the community to draw attention to this issue. Change begins with awareness, and social media empowers us all.

Now, my friends are sharing the story from my page. Though uncomfortable, this story must be told because too many like it go unheard. Clicking a button leads to talking about the issue, which leads to doing something about it.

I challenge you to help end dating violence and sexual assault in your community and across the United States. Use the resources out there, educate yourself and your peers, and wield AAUW’s Campus Sexual Assault Program in a Box to improve safety on your campus. Get to know your campus Title IX coordinator. If you don’t have one, ask your administration why, and report it. Advocate to get the Violence Against Women Act reauthorized — a Senate-passed version includes increased campus protections from the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act.

I stand by my alma mater’s efforts to right its wrongs. Soon after Epifano’s story broke, Amherst President Carolyn “Biddy” Martin and the college trustees released statements promising to enact stricter and more transparent college policies regarding sexual assault. Administrators then set up a website about sexual respect and Title IX so that students could access the school’s policies and understand campus support for the issue. The website also displays a checklist of the college’s planned and completed actionable steps, such as identifying campus space for a gender resource center, hiring an external consultant to review Title IX policies, and investigation into Epifano’s story. Ending sexual assault and gender-based violence is an important fight for our generation, and the ideas we share on Listservs, through social media, and in conversations with our friends and loved ones will move us forward.

This post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Amanda Villarreal.

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Before dropping me off at a volleyball tournament that I was playing at her alma mater, my Mom said something to me in passing. “Look for me on the hall of fame wall.”

My Mom, Tanya Taylor Moulton, was the second woman to be inducted into her high school’s hall of fame.

After the game at McClintock High School in Tempe, Arizona, I somewhat unexcitedly trudged, hindered by massive knee pads, through the gym lobby on my way out. I remembered to look for her maiden and not her married name, but it wouldn’t have been difficult to pick her out anyway among the crew cuts and ties that dominated the brick wall.

It would be disingenuous to describe my bratty 13-year-old self as fully aware of what I was seeing when I spotted the portrait of Tanya Taylor on the wall. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, all these years later, I remember the plaque but not how many aces I served that day.

Before I knew enough about history and women’s issues to appreciate Title IX, I knew that the trailblazing that women like my mom did before Title IX was enforced allowed girls like me, socially and practically, to be athletes.

Though she was also a cheerleader, golf was the reason that my Mom was in the hall of fame — the second woman to be inducted. At the time, golf and tennis were the only girls’ sports teams that she remembers competing in state tournaments. Though she wanted to play softball and run track, she was encouraged to stick to sports that were more “ladylike.” Regardless, the school mostly only offered intramural sports for girls.

When my Mom was a junior, the girls’ golf team brought home the state championship — only the second state title in McClintock’s history. The next year, the team were runners-up.

Mom (right) in Yuma, Arizona, after her team won the state championship

By the time she graduated in 1977, Title IX had already started making a difference at her high school. Girls were now swimming and diving in greater numbers, and there were new girls’ track and gymnastics teams.

Decades later, my Mom has shuttled me across town and across the country to countless golf, rowing, softball, cross-country, volleyball, and basketball events. She says she just assumed that her daughters would be athletes.

My Mom was also on the cheer squad, one of the “ladylike” teams she was encouraged to participate in.

Mom has seen Title IX work wonders as a parent, a teacher, and a girls’ golf coach. But she also sees how far we still have to go. As a coach, she sees that at some schools, the girls’ tennis and golf teams have to share uniforms while the boys’ teams get their own. In other cases, the boys’ football or basketball teams get free meals before games while the girls are expected to feed themselves after long matches after school.

And at her alma mater, she’s seen her own sports legacy essentially erased. The hall of fame disappeared when the gym was renovated. Someone told her that the school threw away the plaques. And when Mom visited McClintock last year, she saw that the boys’ golf teams from the 70s — which didn’t win any championships — were displayed in cases, while the girls’ championship and runner-up trophies were nowhere to be found. Seeing this made her blood boil. “It’s like what we did there never existed, I never existed,” she says. What’s worse is that when my Mom complained, a district athletic director was hostile and dismissive.

This week, we’ve been looking back at Title IX’s 40-year legacy, and for many of us, that legacy is very personal. This 37-word law wasn’t intended to revolutionize women’s sports, but I hope that with our hard work, Title IX can foster legacies like my Mom’s and help us remember the trailblazing women who took the law’s potential and ran with it.

Mom playing golf at the oldest course in the world, St. Andrews in Scotland

My Mom is a McClintock sports legend regardless of where they tossed her trophies and plaque. Who are the Title IX stars in your family?

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This week, as we celebrate Title IX’s 40th birthday and the advances the law has inspired for gender equity, it’s worth remembering AAUW’s year-round efforts to support women who have challenged sex discrimination in education. AAUW’s Legal Advocacy Fund has been instrumental in the success of many gender discrimination cases — in education and in the workplace — during its 31-year history. LAF’s case-support program provides financial and organizational backing for a select number of lawsuits that have the potential to set significant precedents for gender equity. The funds to do this come directly from the generous contributions of AAUW members. Other LAF initiatives include community and campus outreach programs, our Online Resource Library with downloadable advocacy tools, a Legal Referral Network, and research reports.

One case in which LAF played a major role is Mansourian v. Regents of the University of California. LAF first took up this case in 2005, but the women had been fighting long before that. In 2003, Arezou Mansourian, Christine Ng, and Lauren Mancuso filed suit after UC Davis eliminated women’s opportunities in wrestling and dozens of other sports. While the case continued long after they graduated, the women racked up a series of precedent-setting court victories for Title IX, including a landmark win at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which rejected the imposition of procedural hurdles to Title IX suits that challenge inequities in athletic participation. After a bench trial, the court found that the university had violated Title IX. Settlement of a spin-off, class-action lawsuit prompted improvement in the athletic participation ratios of women at UC Davis and provided funds to female athletes at the school.

After their court win, Mansourian, Ng, and Mancuso thanked AAUW members in a letter:

The case simply could not have happened without AAUW’s support. We could not have litigated this fight to victory without the fiscal support of AAUW and the moral support of its members. This case has been embraced at countless AAUW conventions and events across the country. During this long battle, AAUW had our back, and we will continue to have yours.

Mancuso told AAUW that while she was pleased by the outcome of the case, it “serves as a reminder that no matter how much progress we have made in the struggle for equality, there is still much more that needs to be done.”

As former Sen. Birch Bayh (D-IN) once said, “Title IX is rather simple — don’t discriminate on the basis of sex.” But when discrimination does occur, AAUW is ready to support women like Mansourian, Ng, and Mancuso, who spent years fighting in court in order to see Title IX enforced for all of us. The Legal Advocacy Fund exists for precisely that purpose — to combat sex discrimination wherever it occurs.

A great way to celebrate 40 years of progress in education and to recognize and support future Title IX enforcement is to help us continue our case-support work by donating to the Legal Advocacy Fund.

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