Frequently Asked Questions
Title IX / Athletics
What is Title IX?
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in all educational institutions, including K-12 and higher education, which receive federal funding. Specifically, the language states: 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 education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Title IX applies to all aspects of educational opportunities, but is especially well known for opening the door to greater athletic opportunities for women and girls. With regard to athletics, Title IX generally requires educational institutions and programs to do the following: offer male and female students equal opportunities to participate in athletics, including interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural and club sports; treat male and female athletes fairly; and give male and female athletes their fair share of athletic scholarship money and other resources. Prior to its passage, girls and women were limited in the athletic opportunities open to them in high school and college, and represented only a very small proportion of school athletes. Since the passage of Title IX, athletic participation rates have increased greatly at both the secondary and postsecondary levels. However, while significant progress has been made, the 1999-2000 NCAA Gender-Equity Report indicates that more than 80% of schools are not in compliance with the provisions of Title IX. An additional issue is that there has been little research into the composition of the populations who have participated in the increased opportunities provided by Title IX. Though not its intention, the effect of Title IX implementation appears to distribute benefits unequally among women. Further research is warranted to determine the degree to which women of color have benefited.
There have been numerous challenges for educational institutions striving to achieve compliance with Title IX. Federal and state regulations have gray areas that are difficult for schools and colleges to interpret. Compliance problems may be under-reported because of lack of awareness of Title IX and the complaint process. Available funding and an evolving body of law regarding the scope of Title IX have limited both federal and state enforcement of Title IX. Updating older facilities constructed during a pre-Title IX era presents many challenges to compliance, as overcrowded classrooms may be prioritized over gender equity concerns in athletic facilities.
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