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Four Things You Probably Don’t Know About Title IX

9:04 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Becka Wall for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

IU women's basketball

Annmarie Keller of the Indiana University Northwest women's basketball team

Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 6th, is National Girls & Women in Sports Day, which has people singing the praises of Title IX from soccer fields, softball diamonds, tracks, pools and countless other sporting venues — and for good reason! Title IX is an enormously important law for female athletes — no other law has done more to expand opportunities for women and girls in athletics. While there is still work to be done, the progress we have made thanks to Title IX is tremendous.

But what many people don’t know is that the benefits and protections of Title IX aren’t limited to athletics. Here are four other ways Title IX is there for young women (and men, too):

1. Equal opportunities in career and technical programs in traditionally male-dominated fields

Title IX requires that girls and boys be given equal opportunities in career and technical education programs, particularly in traditionally male-dominated fields. Getting more women in these fields may be the key to closing the gender wage gap, since predominantly female occupations pay lower wages than predominantly male ones. Women still face barriers and a lack of encouragement in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (often referred to as STEM), but Title IX has broadened opportunities for a number of women and girls.

Shree Bose, a student at Harvard University, took science and math courses from a young age, finding her calling and her passion in science. As a result of winning the 2011 Google Science Fair for her important breakthrough for chemotherapy resistance treatment, she was invited to speak at conferences, attend an Ivy League university, and even meet the president! We need more girls like Shree, and Title IX is working to ensure that all girls who have an interest in STEM fields or classes are able to pursue them.

2. Protection for pregnant & parenting students

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Dear Schools, Please Stop Discriminating Based on Pregnancy. Thanks, Title IX

2:15 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Lara S. Kaufmann for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Pregnant belly with henna

Title IX prohibits schools from discriminating against pregnant women.

Imagine you’re an honors student at a community college. You’re doing great: you’ve got a merit-based scholarship and you’re enjoying your classes. You’re also pregnant and excited to welcome the new addition to your family.

Being the conscientious student that you are, you approach your professors as soon as classes start, tell them that you’re due near the end of the semester, and ask that if you miss any tests due to a pregnancy-related absence you be allowed to make them up. You even offer to provide a doctor’s note. Three of your professors congratulate you, and tell you that of course this won’t be a problem.

But one of your professors says she will not excuse any such leave or allow work missed to be made up, even if it’s a labor and delivery emergency. She will not reconsider this policy “just because you find it inconvenient.” You’ll just have to deal with it or drop the class.

Sheesh, okay, fine, this professor is being unreasonable. But surely when you appeal to the administration — including the dean — they’ll intervene and tell the professor to reverse her decision, right?

In fact, though, the dean tells you that each professor gets to set his or her own leave and make-up rules, regardless of what those rules are. And if you don’t like it, you’ll have to drop the class.

You feel defeated, so you do it. You drop the class. And because dropping the class disqualified you from your scholarship program, you withdraw from that too.

This all could have been prevented if the school had complied with Title IX, the civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.

Title IX prohibits schools from penalizing pregnant students for medically-necessary absences. Pregnant students should have the opportunity to make up any work they miss. It’s that easy.

Unfortunately, this is a true story. It’s the story of our client, Stephanie, a student at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, part of the City University of New York system. But it is also the story of many pregnant students in schools, colleges, and universities around the country.

That’s why this morning we filed an administrative complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, urging it to investigate whether the college violated Title IX. (Spoiler alert! We think it did).

It’s absolutely essential that schools take their Title IX obligations seriously. Because it’s hard enough to juggle school and life and get a college degree so you can make it in today’s economy and support your family. The last thing you need is your school discriminating against you because you’re pregnant.

For more information on Title IX and how the law protects pregnant and parenting students, visit

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What Do Sports and Reproductive Rights Have in Common?

10:59 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Amanda Marcotte for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

See all our 2012 Title IX coverage here.

Two high school-age women play basketball.

Photo: K.M. Klemencic / Flickr.

Saturday marked the 40th anniversary of what turned out to be one of the most important pieces of feminist legislation, Title IX. Title IX was a wide-ranging reform to educational standards in the U.S., one that required schools from kindergarten through doctoral programs to cease sex discrimination. It ended the traditions of barring boys from home economics and typing class while helping usher more women into STEM fields. But what most people think of first and often only when they think of Title IX is athletics. The requirement that schools invest as much in female athletics as male athletics has by far been the most controversial aspect to this amendment. People who wouldn’t dare suggest that only women should learn to cook or that unequal pay is fair often have no compunction about diminishing female athletes by claiming that their accomplishments simply can’t matter as much as do men’s. In the year 2012, female athleticism still causes overt anxieties.

Why is that? I propose it’s for the same reason that a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy — or even prevent one — is still controversial in our society. As with reproductive rights, female athleticism brings forth social anxieties about women exerting mastery over their own bodies. The female body has been positioned for so long as an object that exists for other people’s use that contemplating a woman using her own body for her own purposes unsettles, whether it’s a woman controlling her fertility or a woman using her body to compete in an arena, sports, which was previously considered only the domain of men.

The way this anxiety is expressed has changed over the years. In the past, women’s reproductive abilities were framed against their athletic aspirations, in much the same way the right still tends to see tensions between women’s reproductive control and capacity. (Look, for instance, at the ready assumption on the right that a woman being pro-choice means she’s intrinsically anti-motherhood.) While fears that athletic women aren’t “real” women have faded somewhat, there are still traces of that belief in modern athletics, from the overly defensive femininity displays of the WNBA to the risible and outdated practice of gender-testing female athletes competing in the Olympics. It seems the fear of stereotypes about women and athletics cause the powers that be in athletic competitions to feel like they have to prove that their athletes are “real” women in the way that men competing in athletics never feel they have to prove their maleness.

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Title IX: It’s Not Just about Sports and It’s Time to Take it Seriously

10:46 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Katherine Greenier for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

See all our 2012 Title IX coverage here.

A male and female student work in a computer lab.

Photo: Susan Hersh/ Flickr.

Title IX, a groundbreaking statute intended to end sex discrimination in education, became law on June 23, 1972. While most famous for its requirement that schools provide girls with equal athletic opportunities, Title IX is not just about sports. The law applies to all educational programs that receive federal funding, and to all aspects of a school’s educational system.

Title IX benefits both boys and girls and is the lynchpin of decades of efforts to promote and establish gender equity in schools.For 40 years, Title IX has mandated gender equality in education and has made a huge difference in young people’s lives. By ensuring that public and private schools, universities and education programs that receive federal funding do not discriminate on the basis of sex, it has not only changed the face of education, it has dramatically increased the ability of girls to fully participate in educational programs and opened doors for all young people to pursue their goals.

Although most people know that Title IX requires schools to provide girls and boys with equal athletic opportunities, it goes much further and helps to ensure that our schools are free of gender-based discrimination and harassment across all educational and extra-curricular programs. Gender-based harassment means harassment or bullying because a student does not conform to gender stereotypes – for example, a female student is derided by her peers because she does not act the way they think girls should act. Similarly, Title IX protects transgender and gender-nonconforming students who are sexually harassed or discriminated against based on their gender identity or expression.

For example, in Virginia, we were recently able to prevent the Suffolk County School Board from adopting a dress code policy, that, as proposed, prohibited “[a]ny clothing worn by a student that is not in keeping with a student’s gender and causes a disruption and/or distracts others from the educational process or poses a health or safety concern.” We sent a letter to the school board arguing that the policy was unconstitutionally vague and reminded board members that the policy was also in violation of TitleIX because it discriminated against students based on gender stereotypes. The Board was wise to drop the discriminatory language.

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