The Commission for Educational Opportunities – appointed by President Bush to “review” Title IX – voted to allow interest surveys be used as a tool in enforcing Title IX and to redefine proportionality to allow more discrimination. Both measures weaken the enforcement of Title IX, the 1972 law that mandates gender equity in federally funded education, including athletic programs in public high schools and colleges. Commissioner Julie Foudy, a member of the U.S. women’s national soccer team, led the fight within the panel to protect Title IX, but the Commission was stacked against supporters for the landmark law.
Women’s groups have vowed to fight the attack on Title IX, rallying outside of the Hotel Washington, where the Commission meetings were being held. In the audience at the hearings were Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women and Martha Burk, president of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, former Senator Birch Bayh (IN), as well as Donna Lopiano of the Women’s Sports Foundation and leaders of the National Women’s Law Center. Sharyn Tejani, legal director of the Feminist Majority, and Smeal spent the day briefing press on the impact of Title IX on women and girls.
“This is not about sports,” said Smeal. “This is about jobs.” Smeal referred to the possibility that the Bush Commission’s attack on girls and women in sports may be the opening salvo in a broader attack on Title IX and opportunities for women in law, medicine, and other traditionally male-dominated professions. “Don’t weaken it,” said Mullinix.
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